Defendants in personal injury cases may try to introduce evidence that is not really relevant to the accident. The plaintiff can move to have such evidence excluded at trial. In the recent case of Lasecki v. Murnyack, the plaintiff moved to exclude testimony related to his certification in operating an over-the-rail mower.
The plaintiff was engaged in on-the-job training in operating an over-the-rail mower, which is a tractor with a mower attached. The plaintiff was assigned the job of mowing along the road. His coworker was assigned the job of operating the “crash truck.” Both the tractor and the truck had lights and flags. While they were working, they experienced some problems with the joy stick control that operated the mower. These issues did not cause any problems with the operation of the tractor. They called in to the shop and were told to bring the mower back so that it could be repaired. The plaintiff chained the mowing unit to the tractor and started back to the shop.
The plaintiff testified that he was not in the traveling lane but was instead driving outside the fog line on the shoulder at the time of the accident. The driver of the crash truck also testified that the tractor was not in the lane.
The defendant driver said he was driving his tractor trailer at about 30 miles per hour. He testified that he saw the tractor’s back wheel on the white line and the wheel weights about six inches to a foot over the white line.
Neither the plaintiff nor the crash truck driver had a certification from their employer to operate the over-the-rail mower. Certification requires instruction on pre- and post-operation checks of the equipment, including greasing, driving, and operating the mower controls. The plaintiff had met these requirements and was in the on-the-job training stage, which requires actually mowing with the equipment. There was testimony that a person in this stage of seeking certification should be accompanied by a certified operator, who drives the truck while the trainee operates the mower. The truck driver in this case was not certified.
The plaintiff moved to exclude all testimony related to the certification. He was not mowing at the time of the accident but was instead driving the tractor back to the shop for repairs. The court noted that the plaintiff was operating the tractor with the consent of his employer. There was no physical impairment that would limit his ability to properly operate the vehicle. The court noted that the real issue to be decided was who was responsible for the accident.
The court noted that safety rules and regulations are generally admitted to the jury, but evidence that a company violated its own policies that were stricter than the relevant law may be unfairly prejudicial. If company policies require a standard that is greater than reasonable care, they should be excluded.
The court granted the motion to exclude testimony related to certification of the plaintiff, the crash truck driver, or anyone else.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC knows the importance of keeping prejudicial evidence from being presented at trial. We have a thorough understanding of New York evidence rules. If you have been seriously hurt in an automobile collision, you need an experienced New York automobile accident attorney to help you. Call 1-877-313-7673 to schedule a free consultation.
Lasecki and Murnyack, April 29, 2016, Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Wayne
More Blog Entries:
Pouzanova v. Morton – Improper Admission of Evidence Damages Car Accident Victim’s Case, July 21, 2014, New York City Injury Lawyer Blog