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CITY OF JACKSON AND WILLIE LEE BUTLER v. DOUGLAS A. COPELAND

MAY 28, 1986

CITY OF JACKSON AND WILLIE LEE BUTLER
v.
DOUGLAS A. COPELAND



BEFORE WALKER, PRATHER AND SULLIVAN

SULLIVAN, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

The Circuit Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County entered a judgment for the appellee, Douglas A. Copeland (Copeland) against the appellants, the City of Jackson (City) and Willie Lee Butler (Butler), on an action grounded in negligence arising out of an automobile accident. The complaint prayed for actual and compensatory damages in the amount of $6,000,000.00.

A first trial resulted in a jury verdict for the City and Butler, but after a new trial was ordered the jury returned a verdict in favor of Copeland, assessing damages in the amount of $350,000.00. This award was reduced to $262,500.00, since the jury found Copeland to be 25% comparatively negligent.

 From this judgment, the City and Butler appeal, assigning as error:

 I. The trial court erred in granting a new trial to plaintiff (appellee/cross-appellant) on grounds that improper testimony was elicited by the defendants where no objection was made by the plaintiff at the time of the alleged elicitation of improper testimony;

 II. The trial court erred in granting a new trial on grounds that were not pled in the written motion of plaintiff for judgment notwithstanding the verdict or, in the alternative, for a new trial;

 III. The trial court erred in granting a new trial on grounds that were not brought to the attention of the court by the plaintiff; and

 IV. The trial court erred in its order of June 23, 1983, in ruling that the verdict of the jury was against the overwhelming weight

 of the evidence and testimony, and in substituting its opinion and judgment for the verdict of the jury.

 Copeland also appeals, assigning as error:

 I. The court erred in granting defendant's instruction D-9;

 II. The court erred in refusing plaintiff's instruction No. 7; the absence of which left the jury to speculate and without guideline to define the Plaintiff's acts of negligence upon which to assign comparative negligence and reduction of award;

 III. The court erred in refusing plaintiff's instruction No. 17, in that the testimony of the defendant Butler contained several clear admissions of negligence by statute;

 IV. The court erred in refusing plaintiff's instruction No. 16 defining the admitted negligence of the defendant Butler in moving from one of three lanes of traffic to another without first ascertaining that it could be done with safety;

 V. The amount of the judgment awarded to the plaintiff is so grossly inadequate and against the overwhelming weight of the testimony and evidence as to evidence bias or prejudice against the defendant;

 VI. The court erred in refusing to grant plaintiff a new trial upon the attempt by the defendants to overcome defendant Butler's previous testimony and deposition, under oath, and his statements made by asserting that he could not read and only write his name; and

 VII. The refusal of the trial court to grant plaintiff's motion in limine to preclude the testimony of Jackson police Officer Phil C. Burnham offered in contradiction to the official report of the deceased Officer Hickman or, in the alternative, to permit the introduction of Officer Hickman's report as a business record of the defendant, City of Jackson, was error.

 On February 13, 1981, a city-owned garbage truck driven by Butler and a 1973 Pontiac LeMans driven by Copeland were involved in an accident on Pascagoula Street in downtown Jackson.

 The collision occurred east of the intersection of Pascagoula and Farish Streets. Pascagoula is a three-lane one-way street running from west to east. Farish Street runs north and south and intersects Pascagoula.

 Copeland turned left on Pascagoula from Gallatin street, and immediately proceeded to the right or southhand lane of Pascagoula. Copeland stopped at the traffic light at the intersection of Roach and Pascagoula, but paused momentarily after the light had turned green in order to be able to catch ...


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