Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Superior Court Upholds Admission of Evidence of Plaintiff's Consumption of Alcohol in Pedestrian Accident Case

In the case of Moffitt v. Miller, No. 8 EDA 2023 (Pa. Super. Sept. 18, 2023, Pelligrini, J., Bowes, J., and Stabile, J.) (Op. by Pelligrini, J.), the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed a lower court’s denial of Plaintiff’s post-trial motions in a case involving a pedestrian Plaintiff who was struck by a motor vehicle.

The court found that the low verdict and the 50/50 negligence apportionment by the jury were not against the weight of the evidence.

One of the issues that the Plaintiff challenged was the admission of testimony regarding the Plaintiff's consumption of alcohol before the accident.  The appellate court found that evidence of the Plaintiff pedestrian’s high blood alcohol level at the time of the accident was properly admitted by the court below. 

The Superior Court noted that the evidence was supported by competent expert testimony that the Plaintiff’s judgement would be impaired. Additionally, there was witness testimony that the Plaintiff smelled of alcohol at or around the time of the incident. The court noted that the exclusion of this evidence would have deprived the jury of relevant evidence to consider in its decision.

The court also found that the Defendant’s alcohol expert was competent to testify based upon the expert’s several decades of experience of treating alcoholics.

In another notable ruling, the Superior court ruled that evidence established that the Plaintiff had attempted to cross the street in a mid-block area and outside of any crosswalk. As such, the court found that the Plaintiff's requested “unmarked crosswalk” instruction was properly denied.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

I send thanks to Attorney James M. Beck of the Philadelphia office of Reed Smith law firm for bringing this case to my attention.

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