Scott v. Brown

1966-NMSC-135, 76 N.M. 501, 416 P.2d 516

 

RULE:

If a party feels it is being prejudiced by the conduct of a trial court in submitting the forms of verdicts to the jury, it is the duty of the party to call such to the attention of the trial court so that the court might correct or avoid the claimed error. Parties cannot participate in the submission of an improper verdict or other improper matters and then have the verdict set aside because it may turn out to be unfavorable.

FACTS:

Plaintiffs, a minor and her guardian, sought damages for personal injuries as a result of a collision between the minor and defendant driver’s truck. The case was tried to a jury, which returned a verdict in defendants’ favor. The trial court entered judgment on the verdict. Plaintiffs filed a motion for a new trial, which argued that two of the jury instructions were given in error and the trial court erred in submitting forms of verdict to the jury. The trial court denied the motion, and plaintiffs appealed. The state supreme court affirmed the trial court’s judgment.

ISSUE:

Did the trial court abuse its discretion when it overruled plaintiff’s motion for a new trial, which claimed that two of the jury instructions were given in error and the trial court erred in submitting forms of verdict to the jury?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

Plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that they were prejudiced by the claimed errors in the jury instructions when no objections were raised at the time the forms were submitted to the jury at trial, and no objection was raised to the instructions being brought into the jury room. Although the objection to the verdict forms was raised in a motion for a new trial,  such was too late for the trial court to correct any alleged error. Therefore, there was no abuse of discretion on the part of the trial court in denying the motion for new trial.

Click here to view the full text case and earn your Daily Research Points.