Wassell v. Adams

865 F.2d 849 (7th Cir. 1989)

 

RULE:

The federal standard is that a new trial can be granted only when the jury's verdict is against the clear weight of the evidence, and the court of appeals can reverse only when persuaded that in applying this standard the district judge abused his discretion.

FACTS:

Plaintiff motel guest was raped in her motel room by a man who she let into her room late at night for a glass of water. Plaintiff filed an action against defendant motel owners alleging that defendants were negligent in failing to warn plaintiff of the dangerous nature of the neighborhood or take precautions to protect her against the assault. The district court jury found that defendants were negligent but found that plaintiff had also been negligent. The plaintiff asked the district court judge for a new trial on the ground that the jury's apportionment of negligence was contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence. The district court denied plaintiff's motion. On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the district court’s decision.

ISSUE:

Could a new trial be granted on the ground that the jury's apportionment of negligence was contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

Defendant motel owners were negligent but not guilty of willful and wanton conduct. The district judge did not abuse his discretion in finding that the jury's verdict that plaintiff motel guest was contributorily negligent was not against the clear weight of the evidence.

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