Appeals Court Says Video Deposition Evidence May be Used During Closing Argument in Florida

Florida’s First District has refused to order a new trial in a truck accident case. In Borden Dairy Co. of Alabama, LLC v. Kuhajda, a woman was apparently hurt in a Florida traffic collision that was caused by the driver of a 30-foot delivery truck. Following the accident, the woman filed a negligence lawsuit against the driver of the truck and his employer in state court. In her complaint, the woman sought financial compensation for the injuries she allegedly sustained in the motor vehicle crash.

The delivery truck driver’s videotaped deposition was admitted into evidence at trial. At the time, neither defendant objected to its inclusion. In addition, the driver testified before jurors that the collision occurred while he was turning left out of a parking lot across a divided highway. The man claimed that another car unexpectedly pulled out of a different parking lot and prevented him from continuing on his intended path. As a result, the driver stated the delivery truck was stopped with the trailer blocking each of the southbound lanes of the roadway when the accident occurred.

During the delivery truck driver’s live testimony, the injured woman used statements from his videotaped deposition to impeach his testimony. In general, impeachment is the process of attacking the credibility of a trial witness. The woman also asked the court to allow her to use portions of the truck driver’s videotaped deposition in her closing argument. Although the man’s employer initially objected to this, the defendants remained silent when the court ultimately allowed a clip of the video evidence to be played during the injured woman’s closing argument.

After jurors returned a verdict attributing 100 percent of the fault for the accident to the defendants, the driver’s employer asked the court to order a new trial. According to the company, the trial court erred when it allowed the woman to play segments of the driver’s video testimony during her closing argument. The court denied the employer’s motion, and the defendants filed an appeal with Florida’s First District Court of Appeal.

On appeal, the Florida court stated the burden of demonstrating the trial court’s ruling was improper was on the defendants. Next, the appellate court examined the facts of the case. The appeals court stated the videotaped deposition evidence was properly admitted pursuant to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.330(a)(2). According to the rule, any portion of deposition evidence may be used at trial for any purpose. Additionally, Florida’s First District said there is no ban on using video deposition evidence during a closing argument in the State of Florida. Despite this, the appellate court said evidence offered during a party’s closing argument must be properly presented to jurors during the taking of evidence.

Since the record demonstrated that the video deposition evidence at issue was presented to the jury before the close of the hurt woman’s case, and Rule 1.330(a)(2) specifically allows such evidence to be used for any purpose, Florida’s First District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s ruling.

If you were hurt or lost a treasured family member in an avoidable truck accident, you should contact a seasoned personal injury attorney to help you protect your rights. To schedule a free consultation with a veteran motor vehicle collision lawyer, call the experienced personal injury advocates at Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. today at (305) 448-8585 or contact us through our website.

Additional Resources:

Borden Dairy Co. of Alabama, LLC v. Kuhajda, Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 1st Dist. 2014

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First District Appellate Court Affirms Decision Denying Florida Workers’ Compensation Benefits Over Employee Misrepresentation, December 30, 2014, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

Florida Appeals Court Holds Auto Insurer is Not Liable for PIP Benefits Above the Statutory Maximum Absent Bad Faith, December 22, 2014, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

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