The beer’s prejudicial, but not unfairly prejudicial.

PPC Transport v. Metcalf (Published): It’s 2:00 a.m..  A semi trying to find a Pilgrim’s Pride plant in Shelby County misses the turnoff by a little, backs up, and waits to make a left turn.  The driver didn’t know it, but when he backed up, he put part of his trailer into the other lane.  Sure enough, a pickup is coming.  The driver of the pickup sees the tractor, but not the trailer.  Pickup hits the trailer.  Pickup driver and his friends were injured, and sue.

The pickup driver and his friends had been drinking for a while before the wreck.  The driver himself had 8-10 beers.  He was speeding at the time of the wreck.

The transportation company says that the pickup driver could have swerved around the trailer had he been sober and driving within the speed limit.

The trial court excluded the drinking and speeding on Tex. R. Evid. 403 grounds.  The jury put all the responsibility on the transportation company.

The Tyler court reversed and remanded.  Their 403 “probative value versus unfair prejudice” analysis accorded the drinking high probative value and low unfair prejudice.  It would be interesting to know how the court would treat a DWI conviction (apparently, there wasn’t one in this case).  In any event, the opinion has some good quotes if you need a case on the known dangers of drinking and driving.

There was also an interesting twist on the offer of proof …Continue Reading…

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