ESTATE OF PAYTON MONTANA CASTEEL, by and through its administrator, ANNA HUTT; and TIRAN CASTEEL, individually, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
PATRICIA CHERIE WRAY, Defendant-Appellee.
from the Iowa District Court for Page County, James M.
of teenager who died appeal the jury's verdict of no
fault in a tort action based on a vehicle accident.
Alfredo G. Parrish and Adam C. Witosky of Parrish Kruidenier
Dunn Boles Gribble Gentry Brown & Bergmann, LLP, Des
Moines, for appellants.
M. Thomas and Stephanie A. Koltookian of Bradshaw, Fowler,
Proctor & Fairgrave, PC, Des Moines, for appellee.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Mullins and McDonald, JJ.
Anna Hutt and Tiran Casteel, appeal the jury's verdict of
no fault in a suit against driver Patricia Wray concerning a
vehicle collision in which their son, Payton Casteel, died.
Plaintiffs contend the jury's verdict was not supported
by sufficient evidence and failed to effectuate substantial
justice between the parties. Plaintiffs also argue the court
erred in overruling their motion in limine to prevent the
introduction of evidence relating to Payton's lack of a
motorcycle license and his motorcycle's lack of a
headlight. Finally, they contend the court erred in granting
summary judgment on their claim of damages for pre-death pain
and suffering and pre-death loss of function.
Background Facts and Proceedings
lived off of Lincoln Street in Coin, Iowa. The driveway to
Wray's house is east of the intersection of Lincoln and
North Sixth Street. She lived next door to Anna Hutt and her
sixteen-year-old son, Payton. On May 21, 2014, at
approximately 6:25 p.m., Patricia Wray drove her van east on
Lincoln Street on her way home from work. Payton was at his
house with friends, hanging out in the garage. Payton asked
one of his friends to watch him as he rode his dirt bike
along Lincoln Street. Payton left his house and headed west
on Lincoln. At some point, as Wray drove east on Lincoln she
passed by Payton, heading west. After cresting a hill on
Lincoln, Payton turned his motorcycle around and headed east,
approaching Wray's van. By this time, the friend who had
been watching Payton returned to the garage.
neared her driveway, she turned on her left turn signal.
While turning, Payton hit the van behind the driver's
side door. The impact threw Payton from the motorcycle across
the front of the van, and he landed on a nearby grassy area,
severely injured. Wray did not see Payton before turning but
testified she caught a glimpse of something as she turned. No
one witnessed the collision. Skid marks in the westbound lane
of traffic indicate Payton was in that lane prior to hitting
Payton landed in the grass, Wray called for paramedics and
Payton's friends approached him to determine his state of
injury. Paramedics rendered aid at the scene, and Payton was
transported by helicopter to Creighton Medical Center in
critical condition. While at the hospital, Payton was
unresponsive and on life support. Payton passed away on May
20, 2016, Payton's estate, through his mother as
administrator, and Payton's father, Tiran Casteel, sued
Wray claiming she negligently operated her vehicle, and as a
result of her negligence Payton was injured, which resulted
in his death. Tiran also sued Wray individually for loss of
parental consortium. In June 2017, Wray filed a motion for
partial summary judgment and asked for the dismissal of
certain categories of damages as well as the
loss-of-parental-consortium claim. The court granted the
motion in part.
plaintiffs filed a motion in limine, seeking to exclude,
among other things, evidence that Payton was not licensed to
operate a motorcycle on the highway and evidence that
Payton's motorcycle was not "street legal," as
it lacked turn signals and a headlight. The plaintiffs
contended these facts had no connection to the collision.
Before commencing trial, the court heard from both parties
and overruled the plaintiffs' motion on this evidence.
After a three-day trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor
of Wray, finding she was not at fault.
moved for a new trial on the basis that the jury's
verdict of no fault was not supported by sufficient evidence
and failed to administer substantial justice. They argued
Wray bore some degree of fault as she failed to keep a proper
lookout before turning. They also argued the court erred in
overruling their motion in limine and allowing evidence of
Payton's lack of a motorcycle license and the lack of
headlights on his motorcycle. Lastly, they contended the
court erred in denying their request of damages for pre-death
pain and suffering and pre-death loss of function.
The court denied the motion, concluding:
Plaintiffs' objections to jury instructions were
previously made and ruled upon during trial. Questions of
negligence and proximate cause are for the trier of fact. In
this case, evidence supports the jury's findings that
decedent's negligence was the cause of the accident. The
jury's decision was supported by sufficient facts.