|The Case: Schultz v. Ford Motor Co.,822 N.E.2d 645 (Ind. Ct. App. 2005)
Author of Amicus Brief: David V. Scott, New Albany
The Issues: Richard Schultz was rendered a quadriplegic when his 1995 Ford Explorer rolled over and the roof collapsed. The Schultzes then commenced a products liability action against Ford. After an eight week trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Ford. The Shultzes appealed, claiming that the trial court erred in giving final instruction number 23. The instruction, which was premised upon Ind. Code 34-20-5-1, provided that there was a rebuttable presumption that the product was not defective if it complied with applicable codes, standards, regulations, or specifications established, adopted, promulgated, or approved by the United States or by Indiana, or by an agency of the United States or Indiana.
The Outcome: The Court of Appeals found that the statute was not an appropriate instruction in this case, and reversed for a new trial. The Court noted that a presumption of law is not evidence nor should it be weighed by the factfinder as though it had evidentiary value. Rather, a presumption is a rule of law enabling the party in whose favor it operates to take his case to the trier of fact without presenting evidence of the fact presumed. It serves as a challenge for proof and indicates the party from whom such proof must be forthcoming. When the opponent of the presumption has met the burden of production thus imposed, however, the office of the presumption has been performed; the presumption is of no further effect and drops from the case.
Read the Opinion: http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/previous/archive/02210506.jsk.html
Read the Amicus Brief: Schultz v. Ford Motor Co. Amicus Brief
The Case: Vasquez v. Phillips, 843 N.E.2d 61 (Ind. Ct. App. 2006)
Author of Amicus Brief: Mark A. Scott, KING SCOTT, LLP, Kokomo
The Issues: The plaintiff and her five children suffered minor injuries when their vehicle was struck by a State Farm insured. The plaintiffs served six separate Qualified Settlement Offers (QSO) to the defendant. After a bench trial, each of the plaintiffs was awarded more than the amount of his or her QSO. The plaintiffs therefore moved for six awards of $1,000.00 each under the QSO statute, and the trial court granted the motion. The defendant appealed.
The Outcome: The Court of Appeals found that the QSO statute unambiguously applied to each offeror, and since six offerors made six separate offers, each was entitled to an award under the QSO statute. However, since the plaintiffs attorney affidavit did not specify the amount of attorney fees incurred on each plaintiff case from the date of the offers, the Court remanded for such a determination.
Read the Opinion: http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/02280603lmb.pdf
Read the Amicus Brief: Vasquez v. Phillips Amicus Brief
The Case: Taylor v. Castongia,849 N.E.2d 786 (Ind. Ct. App. 2006) (Non-Published Memorandum Decision)
Author of Amicus Brief: Betsy K. Greene, GREENE SCHULTZ, Bloomington
The Issues: The plaintiff sustained injuries in a motor vehicle collision in which the plaintiff vehicle was not badly damaged. Over the objection of the plaintiff, the defendant introduced the photographs depicting damage to the vehicle. Further, without expert testimony, the defendant argued during closing that the jury could infer that plaintiff injuries were mild by virtue of the limited damage to the vehicle. Plaintiff appealed.
The Outcome: The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court.
Read the Opinion: Non-Published Memorandum Decision
Read the Amicus Brief: Taylor v. Castongia Amicus Brief