Dahlin v. Holmquist, No. 88-308

Docket NºNo. 88-308
Citation46 St.Rep. 2127, 766 P.2d 239, 235 Mont. 17
Case DateJanuary 25, 1989
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Montana

Page 239

766 P.2d 239
235 Mont. 17, 57 USLW 2391
Catherine DAHLIN, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
Janice HOLMQUIST, Defendant and Respondent.
No. 88-308.
Supreme Court of Montana.
Submitted Oct. 6, 1988.
Decided Nov. 29, 1988.
Rehearing Denied Jan. 25, 1989.

[235 Mont. 18] Hoyt & Blewett, Michael J. George, Great Falls, for plaintiff and appellant.

Donald L. Harris, Crowley, Haughey, Hanson, Toole and Dietrich, Billings, for defendant and respondent.

GULBRANDSON, Justice.

Catherine Dahlin appeals from the denial of her motion for a new trial by the District Court of the Thirteenth Judicial District, Yellowstone County. We reverse and remand for a new trial.

Page 240

Appellant raises the following issues upon appeal:

1. Did the District Court's denial of plaintiff's motion in limine to exclude the secondary gain testimony of Dr. Lovitt deny plaintiff her right to a fair trial?

2. Was plaintiff denied a fair trial by the District Court's denial of plaintiff's request to inform the jury of defendant's insurance coverage following defendant's allusion to a lack of insurance by the comment "we paid"?

3. Was plaintiff denied a fair and impartial jury by the District Court's refusal to permit plaintiff to voir dire potential jurors about any bias resulting after media exposure to articles or advertisements on the "liability crisis"?

On February 26, 1984, the parties to this case were involved in an automobile accident in Lewistown, Montana. Catherine Dahlin suffered neck and shoulder injuries in the accident. She was subsequently seen by Dr. James Lovitt, an orthopedic surgeon, in March of 1984. He diagnosed her as suffering from a cervical and lumbar strain. To date, Dahlin continues to experience headaches and neck [235 Mont. 19] pain, even though the normal healing period for such an injury is six to twelve weeks.

On February 23, 1987, Dahlin filed a complaint alleging that the defendant's negligent vehicular operation caused the collision which resulted in her physical injury, pain and suffering, loss of established course of life, and lost earning capacity. The District Court granted plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability after determining that defendant's negligence caused the accident. The court scheduled a jury trial on the issue of damages to begin February 16, 1988.

Prior to trial, plaintiff notified the court of her intent to question potential jurors about whether they believe, and consequently would be biased because of anything they had heard or read indicating that jury verdicts for plaintiffs in personal injury cases result in higher insurance premiums. On the morning of trial, plaintiff generally asserted that the extensive "media blitz" on the issue of "tort reform" and the "liability crisis" was sufficient to warrant such questioning. Plaintiff then offered four articles, generally published two years prior to trial, as proof of this "media blitz." The court held such articles were too remote in time to have any potential prejudicial effect on the jurors, and consequently it denied plaintiff's request to conduct such questioning.

Plaintiff filed a motion in limine four days prior to trial, requesting the court to exclude, among other things, all "secondary gain" testimony by Dr. Lovitt. The doctor defined such secondary gain as that financial, emotional, or other type of benefit received by virtue of the injury which serves to encourage the continuation of an injury. The court delayed ruling on this motion the first morning of trial, stating that it would review the deposition containing the secondary gain testimony prior to its presentation to the jury....

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12 practice notes
  • Palmer by Diacon v. Farmers Ins. Exchange, No. 91-523
    • United States
    • Montana United States State Supreme Court of Montana
    • 18 Noviembre 1993
    ...Rule 401, M.R.Evid. Trial judges have the discretion to determine the relevancy and admissibility of evidence. Dahlin v. Holmquist (1988), 235 Mont. 17, 20, 766 P.2d 239, 241. However, the admission of irrelevant evidence is an abuse of discretion and warrants a new trial if it affects the ......
  • Ferebee v. Hobart, No. 24918.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • 24 Noviembre 2009
    ...Trailer Co., Inc., 2009 SD 62, ¶ 8, 769 N.W.2d 843, 846. This applies as well to rulings on motions in limine. See Dahlin v. Holmquist, 235 Mont. 17, 766 P.2d 239, 241 (1988); Gray v. Allen, 677 S.E.2d 862, 865 (N.C.Ct.App.2009). Although relevant evidence is generally admissible, SDCL 19-1......
  • Jas Enters., Inc. v. BBS Enters., Inc., Nos. 26414
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • 17 Julio 2013
    ...Inc., 2009 S.D. 62, ¶ 8, 769 N.W.2d 843, 846). “This applies as well to rulings on motions in limine.” Id. (citing Dahlin v. Holmquist, 235 Mont. 17, 766 P.2d 239, 241 (1988); Gray v. Allen, 197 N.C.App. 349, 677 S.E.2d 862, 865 (2009)). “With regard to the rules of evidence, abuse of discr......
  • Waller v. Hayden, No. 93-464
    • United States
    • Montana United States State Supreme Court of Montana
    • 13 Diciembre 1994
    ...Welnel v. Hall (1985), 215 Mont. 78, 694 P.2d 1346, Kimes v. Herrin (1985), 217 Mont. 330, 705 P.2d 108, Dahlin v. Holmquist, (1988), [235 Mont. 17,] 766 P.2d In this case, we cannot conclude that the District Court manifestly abused its discretion when it held that the evidence of discipli......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
12 cases
  • Palmer by Diacon v. Farmers Ins. Exchange, No. 91-523
    • United States
    • Montana United States State Supreme Court of Montana
    • 18 Noviembre 1993
    ...Rule 401, M.R.Evid. Trial judges have the discretion to determine the relevancy and admissibility of evidence. Dahlin v. Holmquist (1988), 235 Mont. 17, 20, 766 P.2d 239, 241. However, the admission of irrelevant evidence is an abuse of discretion and warrants a new trial if it affects the ......
  • Ferebee v. Hobart, No. 24918.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • 24 Noviembre 2009
    ...Trailer Co., Inc., 2009 SD 62, ¶ 8, 769 N.W.2d 843, 846. This applies as well to rulings on motions in limine. See Dahlin v. Holmquist, 235 Mont. 17, 766 P.2d 239, 241 (1988); Gray v. Allen, 677 S.E.2d 862, 865 (N.C.Ct.App.2009). Although relevant evidence is generally admissible, SDCL 19-1......
  • Jas Enters., Inc. v. BBS Enters., Inc., Nos. 26414
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • 17 Julio 2013
    ...Inc., 2009 S.D. 62, ¶ 8, 769 N.W.2d 843, 846). “This applies as well to rulings on motions in limine.” Id. (citing Dahlin v. Holmquist, 235 Mont. 17, 766 P.2d 239, 241 (1988); Gray v. Allen, 197 N.C.App. 349, 677 S.E.2d 862, 865 (2009)). “With regard to the rules of evidence, abuse of discr......
  • Waller v. Hayden, No. 93-464
    • United States
    • Montana United States State Supreme Court of Montana
    • 13 Diciembre 1994
    ...Welnel v. Hall (1985), 215 Mont. 78, 694 P.2d 1346, Kimes v. Herrin (1985), 217 Mont. 330, 705 P.2d 108, Dahlin v. Holmquist, (1988), [235 Mont. 17,] 766 P.2d In this case, we cannot conclude that the District Court manifestly abused its discretion when it held that the evidence of discipli......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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