Reis v. Luckett

Reis v. Luckett, 2015 MT 337 (Dec. 2, 2015) (Cotter, J.; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (4-1, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in granting Reis’s motion for a new trial.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: Scott Reis and Austin Luckett were in a serious three-car accident in February 2010. Luckett admitted liability. Later that day, Reis claimed he began to experience neck and back pain as well as pain in his left hand little finger. Over the next several months, Reis sought treatment from a family nurse practitioner as well as a chiropractor, pain specialist, and orthopedist.

Procedural Posture & Holding: The district court held a jury trial in December 2014 and the jury found Luckett’s negligence did not cause Reis’s injuries.

Reis moved for a new. The district court granted the motion on the basis that the uncontroverted evidence proved Luckett’s negligence caused Reis’s hand injury. Luckett appeals and the Supreme Court affirms. 

Reasoning: Reis argues the evidence regarding his hand injury was uncontroverted, while Luckett argues credibility is always an issue for the jury, and the jury was within its province to find that Reis failed to prove any of his claimed injuries were related to the accident. Because the evidence regarding Reis’s hand injury was uncontroverted, the jury was not free to disregard it.

Justice McKinnon’s Dissent: Justice McKinnon notes the x-ray report that said the injury to Reis’s finger “may be due to a remote fracture,” and would conclude that the jury properly considered the weight to be given to the evidence. She would reverse.