Personal Injury Appeal Dismissed Based on Plaintiff’s Failure to Preserve Error

Earlier this month, a federal circuit court of appeals issued a written opinion that makes clear the importance of having attentive and knowledgeable attorneys involved in a personal injury case. In the case of Stults v. International Flavors, the appellate court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims because they failed to make a timely objection at trial, thus preserving the error for appeal.

A Brief History of the Facts

The facts of the case are a bit unusual. The plaintiff consumed between one and three bags of microwavable popcorn per day for about 20 years. At some point, the plaintiff was diagnosed with a lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans, which is an inflammation and scarring along the airways of the lung. It caused the plaintiff to cough excessively and have a difficult time breathing. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer claiming that the manufacturer of microwavable popcorn was liable for his lung disease because the chemical used to create a buttery flavor in the product was shown to cause bronchiolitis obliterans.

At trial, there was a “battle of the experts,” meaning that each side presented expert testimony as to why the plaintiff developed his lung disease. The defense experts’ position was that it was caused by an auto-immune disorder that had nothing to do with their product. The plaintiff’s expert, on the other hand, claimed that the disease was caused by his exposure to the chemical that was found in the defendant’s popcorn.

The judge had to make several evidentiary rulings in the case regarding the witnesses’ testimony. This included preventing the plaintiff’s witness from testifying to favorable facts, and allowing the defense witness to testify to facts that went against the plaintiff’s case. At the end of the trial, the jury found in favor of the defendant.

The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the lower court’s evidentiary ruling regarding the expert testimony was in error.

The Plaintiff Loses on Appeal Because His Attorney Did Not Object

On appeal, the case was affirmed. One of the reasons the appellate court cited when affirming the defense verdict was that the defendant did not object to the court’s ruling as they were occurring. This failed to preserve the alleged error for appeal. Generally speaking, an appellate court will only consider issues that were raised below in the lower court. If a party fails to make an objection, the appellate court may not allow that argument on appeal. Therefore, it is incredibly important that an attorney handling your case be well-versed in all rules of evidence and procedure.

Have You Been Injured by a Dangerous Product?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured by a dangerous product in Florida, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, as is made clear above, litigating the surrounding issues associated with the admissibility of evidence and preservation of error can be complex and, if done incorrectly, can result in your case being dismissed. Call one of the dedicated personal injury attorneys at Friedman Rodman & Frank today at 877-448-8585 to set up a free consultation to discuss your case.

More Blog Posts:

Florida Accident Victim’s Bad-Faith Claim Against Insurance Company Results in $1 Million Verdict, March 11, 2016, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

Florida Hearing Indicates Takata Concealed Evidence of Airbag Defect, February 22, 2016, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

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