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Davidson v. Prince - 813 P.2d 1225 (Utah Ct. App. 1991)

Rule:

It is improper to instruct the jury as to the tax consequences of a personal injury or wrongful death award.

Facts:

Appellant Grant Davidson was injured by a cow or a steer that had escaped from a wrecked truck driven by Erwin M. Prince, an employee of appellee Folkens Brothers Trucking. Subsequently, Davidson filed a negligence action against Prince and Folkens. A jury found appellees 60 percent negligent and appellant 40 percent contributorily negligent. Based on this verdict, the judge entered a judgment in favor of appellant in the amount of $27,323.88 plus interest. Appellant moved for a new trial, contending the trial court had committed three errors of law. First, appellant argued the trial court erred in instructing the jury regarding the tax consequences of a personal injury judgment. Second, appellant contended the trial court erred in precluding his expert from testifying that appellee was negligent. Third, appellant claimed the trial court erred in admitting a statement made in a settlement letter. The court denied this motion. Davidson appeals from the denial of his motion for a new trial. 

Issue:

Did the trial court err in denying plaintiff's motion for new trial?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The court affirmed the denial of the motion; while it was erroneous to instruct jury on tax consequences of a personal injury award, such error was harmless. Also, it was proper to prevent appellant's expert from testifying as to his opinion whether appellee's employee was negligent.

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