from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Paul D. Miller,
Taylor appeals and CC Recycling, L.L.C. cross-appeals a
district court ruling following a civil jury trial. AFFIRMED
IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, AND REMANDED ON APPEAL; REVERSED
AND REMANDED ON CROSS APPEAL.
J. Thorson of Ackley, Kopecky & Kingery, L.L.P., Cedar
Rapids, and Richard A. Pundt of Pundt Law Office, Cedar
Rapids, for appellant.
Bradley J. Kaspar and Matthew G. Novak of Pickens, Barnes
& Abernathy, Cedar Rapids, for appellee.
by Danilson, C.J., Mullins, J., and Blane, S.J. [*]
Taylor appeals a district court ruling following a civil jury
trial denying his motion for a new trial and shifting the
costs of the action to him under Iowa Code chapter 677
(2016). Taylor argues (1) the district court abused its
discretion in denying his motion for a new trial because the
jury's overall award on his claim was inadequate and
defense counsel engaged in misconduct during the
proceedings and (2) his failure to accept the
defendant's offer to confess judgment did not justify
shifting the costs of trial to him because the defendant did
not give him proper notice of an offer to confess judgment.
Recycling, L.L.C. ("CC") cross-appeals the same
ruling, which also denied its motion for judgment
notwithstanding the verdict with regard to the jury's
award of past medical expenses. Specifically, CC argues
Taylor failed to meet his burden to prove the reasonable
value of his past medical expenses.
Background Facts and Proceedings
in the business of recycling scrap metal and salvaging
automobile parts. In November 2012, Taylor and Elmer Mims
transported various pieces of scrap metal to CC using a
pickup truck. One of these items was a large, metal pole
weighing approximately five hundred pounds. After arriving at
CC and weighing the items contained in the truck, one of
CC's employee's, Pierre Baugh, attempted to manually
unload the pipe from the bed of the truck, but Taylor and
Mims advised him it would be too heavy to move on his own.
Mims backed away from the truck as a safety precaution when
he noticed Baugh start to tremble while he was trying to lift
the pole. Taylor laughed at Baugh and began to walk away from
the truck while Baugh continued his efforts, but as Taylor
was walking away, Baugh lost control of the pole, and the
pole ultimately came into contact with Taylor's head.
Taylor was knocked unconscious, and his head was bloodied.
There was machinery nearby that Baugh could have used to
remove the pole from the truck.
day of this occurrence, Taylor and Mims did not wear hard
hats while in the scrapyard, they were not offered hard hats
by CC, and they were unaware of any requirement that they
wear one while in the scrapyard. According to CC's
facility manager, however, CC employed a policy that the
wearing of hard hats was required by all persons in the
scrapyard and, if Taylor had come to the office on the day in
question, which he did not, he would have been offered a hard
hat. Baugh testified to his understanding that such policy
only applied to employees.
took Taylor home, after which Taylor's fiancé took
him to the hospital. There, Taylor was advised he suffered a
nonserious head injury and was directed to not work the
following day. Prior to this incident, Taylor suffered from
"cluster migraines" since he was nineteen
years-of-age,  which he would get "every day, but
[allegedly] not as bad as [he] got them" after being hit
in the head with the pole. Prior to the incident at CC,
Taylor frequently visited the emergency room for treatment in
relation to his migraines. During three separate visits to
the emergency room in 2011, Taylor reported to medical staff
that he suffered from multiple migraines per day and the pain
level of such migraines was "ten out of ten." On
one visit, he advised medical staff he experienced five
migraines per day, and during a separate visit, he reported
he experienced six per day. At a visit to the hospital in
February 2013, after the incident, he reported to medical
personnel that he experienced "a headache 4-5 times a
presented to a neurologist for an evaluation in December
2015. Taylor reported to the neurologist that he "had
prior headaches dating back to age 19-but since the accident,
the headaches . . . remarkably increased up to five times a
day." Upon examination, this neurologist concluded
Taylor suffered from "cluster migraines" which he
believed "were definitely aggravated by the
injury." Ultimately, the neurologist opined Taylor's
migraines amounted to a five percent impairment of the whole
person before the injury and a twenty percent impairment of
the same after the injury. The neurologist did not review any
of Taylor's medical records prior to his injury in
November 2012 but instead relied on what Taylor told him
about his history with migraines.
filed a negligence suit against CC in September 2014.
Following a trial, a jury returned a verdict in favor of
Taylor. The jury unanimously awarded Taylor $4904.52 in past
medical expenses, $500.00 in past loss of body function, and
$500.00 in past pain and suffering, for a total award of
$5904.52. However, the jury assigned Taylor with
forty-five percent of the fault, and his overall award was
accordingly reduced to $3247.49.
filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and
motion to tax costs. In relation to the motion for judgment
notwithstanding the verdict, CC requested the court to set
aside the award for past medical expenses, generally arguing
Taylor had yet to pay any of the medical bills associated
with the injury and there was no testimony as to the
reasonableness of such expenses.See Pexa v. Auto Owners
Ins. Co., 686 N.W.2d 150, 156 (Iowa 2004). With regard
to the motion to tax costs, CC requested the court assess the
court costs ...