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Elick v. Garrett

Court of Appeal of Iowa

November 6, 2013

NATASHA L. ELICK, Individually, and TODD C. ELICK, Individually, and as Next Friend of TRISTAN ELICK and CALEB ELICK, Minors, Plaintiffs-Appellees,
v.
JERRY A. GARRETT and ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES, INC., Defendants-Appellants.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Mary E. Howes, Judge.

The defendants appeal from the district court's denial of their motion for a new trial or remittitur, contending (1) the court erred in admitting certain evidence, and (2) the jury's damage award for future loss of function was not supported by the evidence.

Michael C. Walker and Amanda R. Newman of Hopkins & Huebner, P.C., Davenport, for appellants.

Earl A. Payson, Davenport, for appellees.

Heard by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.

DOYLE, P.J.

This appeal arises from a rear-end motor vehicle collision that resulted in personal injury to Natasha (Tasha) Elick. The defendants, Jerry Garrett and Environmental Services, Inc., claim on appeal the trial court erred in admitting evidence concerning the types of vehicles involved, their weights, their post-impact points of rest, and their speeds, as well as photographs of damage to the Elicks' SUV. The defendants also assert the details of the collision were irrelevant and prejudicial because fault and causation were admitted. Additionally, the defendants argue there was insufficient evidence to support the jury's verdict for future loss of function of body sustained by Tasha. Upon our review, we conclude the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the evidence, and we find the jury's verdict for loss of function is supported by sufficient evidence. We therefore affirm the jury's verdict and the trial court's judgment entry.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

Tasha Elick was driving a Saturn SUV the afternoon of July 7, 2010. She was stopped at the intersection of West River Drive and South Concord Street in Davenport. The traffic signals for the intersection were not operating, and traffic was alternating through the intersection. As she waited for her turn to proceed, she was struck from behind by a garbage truck owned by Environmental Services, Inc. (ESI) driven by ESI employee Jerry Garrett.[1] As a result of the collision, Tasha sustained a neck injury, which ultimately required a discectomy and the fusion of her cervical vertebrae 5-7.

Tasha and her family filed suit seeking damages to compensate Tasha for her personal injuries and for her family's loss of consortium. Prior to trial, Garrett admitted fault for the collision and the causation of Tasha's injuries. Left in dispute were the nature and extent of Tasha's personal injuries, as well as the amount of damages to compensate for her and her family's injuries.

Following a jury trial, the jury rendered a verdict in favor of the Elicks. Thereafter, Garrett filed a motion for new trial, or alternatively for remittitur, which was subsequently denied by the district court. Garrett now appeals.

II. Discussion.

On appeal, Garrett asserts the trial court "erred by allowing evidence concerning: (1) the types of vehicles involved, (2) the empty and loaded weight of [the] truck, (3) the speeds of the vehicles, (4) the vehicles' post-impact points of rest, and (5) the damage sustained by [the Elicks'] SUV." Garrett also contends there was insufficient evidence to support the jury's verdict for future loss of function of body sustained by Tasha. Before we ...


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