Lasley v. Combined Transport, Inc.Annotate this Case
The issues presented to the Supreme Court in this case concerned evidentiary and pleading questions that arose in the trial of a multi-defendant negligence case. Plaintiff Clarence Lasley (the decedent's father) brought this case against defendants Combined Transport, Inc. (Combined Transport) and Judy Clemmer (Clemmer). On the day that decedent died, a truck owned and operated by Combined Transport lost part of its load of large panes of glass on the freeway. During the clean-up, traffic backed up and decedent was stopped. Clemmer drove into decedent's pickup, causing leaks in its fuel system. The ensuing fire killed decedent. Combined Transport denied that it was negligent and that its conduct foreseeably resulted in decedent's death. Clemmer admitted that she was negligent in driving at an unreasonable speed and in failing to maintain a proper lookout and control. Clemmer also admitted that her negligence was a cause of decedent's death. Based on the pleadings, the trial court granted Plaintiff's motion in limine to exclude evidence that Clemmer was intoxicated at the time of the collision. The jury rendered a verdict against both defendants, finding Combined Transport 22 percent at fault and Clemmer 78 percent at fault for plaintiff's damages. Combined Transport appealed and the Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that the trial court had erred in excluding the evidence of Clemmer's intoxication. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that evidence of Clemmer's intoxication was not relevant to the issue of whether Combined Transport's negligence was a cause of decedent's death but was relevant to the issue of apportionment of fault. The Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals, reversed the judgment of the circuit court, and remanded the case to the circuit court for further proceedings.