(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this brain injury/car accident case and its proceedings.)
DEFENSE COUNSEL’S MISCONDUCT. [C.C.P. SECTION 657 SUBD. 1. AND 7].
Evidence and Argument of the Lyon Settlement.
Before trial separate statements of the facts to be read to the jury were submitted by the parties. Defendant’s statement included that Mr. Lyon was a party, but he had settled. Plaintiff strenuously objected on the grounds of Evidence Code sections 352 and 1152 to there being any reference to that settlement. Alternatively, plaintiff proposed that if there was to be such a reference allegedly to explain Mr. Lyon’s current absence as a defendant, then equity demanded that the same explanation “of settlement,” be given as to Mrs. Black’s absence as a plaintiff against defendant White.
The court, over plaintiff’s objection, read to the jury the defense statement of the case, but refused to allow the jury to be told that Mrs. White had settled with Mrs. Black. During the entire course of the trial, from opening statement through questioning and into argument, defense counsel referenced the Lyon settlement, emphasizing to the jury that the party who was at fault, Mr. Lyon, had settled.
The implication clearly was that Mr. Lyon’s settlement was an admission of fault in the auto accident and demonstrated Mrs. White was not liable. Such statements further caused the jury to reason plaintiff had at least been partially compensated.
Plaintiff strenuously objected to any reference to settlement at all during the trial. The objection was overruled. Allowing evidence and argument of the Lyon settlement, coupled with not allowing the jury notice of the White settlement, resulted in compounding the prejudice. (See Part 10 of 12.)
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.