Law School Case Brief
Compania Dominicana de Aviacion v. Knapp - 251 So. 2d 18 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1971)
The parties are not entitled to a perfect trial, but only one free from reversible error. Likewise, the rule has evolved that a motion for mistrial is directed to the sound judicial discretion of the trial judge who has observed the action and its effect upon the jurors. Therefore, not every breath of insurance automatically results in a mistrial. Each decision must be evaluated to determine whether the trial judge abuses his discretion in deciding whether a curative instruction can or cannot suffice.
Two of plaintiff's three sons were killed when a plane crashed into a paint and body shop. Plaintiff brought a wrongful death action against defendants, owner and operator, and insurer of plane. Plaintiff was awarded a large jury verdict. Defendants appealed, contending: failure to grant severance, failure to grant a mistrial for intentional injection of evidence of insurance payment, failure to grant mistrial for misconduct of counsel in claiming that the pilot had failed U.S. competency tests, and failure to grant a new trial on the ground that the verdict was excessive.
Are the errors asserted by the defendants reversible?
The court examined defendants' assertions of error and concluded that defendants failed to demonstrate any reversible error by the trial court. The court found the trial court had not abused its discretion in failing to rule for defendants on their motions for severance, mistrial, a new trial, or that only harmless error had occurred which was remedied. The court further found the jury verdict was not excessive concluding it was supported by the law and the facts. The court affirmed the trial court judgment for plaintiff.
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