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PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Charge to jury - Jury's answers - Grounds for appeal

Thursday, April 06, 2017 @ 8:34 AM  

Lexis Advance® Quicklaw®
Appeal by the defendant from jury determinations in a personal injury action. The defendant traveled westbound on a two-lane road. The plaintiff traveled eastbound. The plaintiff's vehicle was struck from behind by another eastbound vehicle, causing it to spin, flip, and cross into the westbound lane, colliding with the defendant's vehicle. The plaintiff settled a claim against the driver who caused the first collision, and settled quantum of damages with all involved. The sole issue at trial was whether the defendant was negligent for the second collision with the plaintiff's vehicle. A jury determined that the defendant's negligence caused or contributed to the second collision. The defendant appealed.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The defendant's contention that the jury verdict imposed an unreasonable standard of perfection and defied common sense was rejected. The trial judge repeatedly instructed the jury not to impose a standard of perfection. Ample evidence from eyewitnesses and an accident reconstruction expert supported the jury's finding of negligence. Although a jury instruction applicable to rear-end collisions rather than head-on collisions was inappropriate, it did not cause the jury to engage in incorrect analysis when considered against the jury instructions as a whole, and did not warrant a new trial. The trial judge issued a sufficient correcting instruction to the jury in respect of irrelevant and improper closing submissions by the plaintiff's trial counsel that sought to influence the jury. The correcting instruction was reviewed by the defendant's counsel prior to its issuance. The cumulative effect of the errors alleged by the defendant did not justify a new trial.

Norman (Litigation guardian of) v. Scheppink, [2017] O.J. No. 1144, Ontario Court of Appeal, R.G. Juriansz, D.M. Brown and B. Miller JJ.A., March 7, 2017. Digest No. TLD-Apr32017011