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Davis of MKS Productions and Essex Insurance Company vs. Esposito

Davis of MKS Productions and Essex Insurance Company vs. Esposito

United States Court of Appeal, Fifth Cicuit

March 13, 1995

(The trial court is the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana which reached it’s decision in )

I.  Statement of Facts

     a.  Mr. is an employee of MKS Producations and Essex Insurance.  The company sponsored and arts and crafts show at the Pontchartrain Center.  He turned causing a fall that injured Mrs. Yvonne Esposita.  This fall occurred and not only caused immediate injury to Mrs. Esposita however it also caused some lasting medial injuries. 

     b.  After the fall, Mrs. Esposita had to have hip replacement surgery.  She also spent six weeks in the hospital.  She also had a twenty-three percent permanent physical impairment to her leg.  Since the fall she has also had more problems with a pre-existing arthritis in her back.

     c.  The legal issue that is in question is whether or not the fall was negligence on the part of the company.  The idea is that the company feels that they did nothing to cause the negligence as their employee was responsible for the injury.  The argument is that it would not be normal to charge an individual for these types of

          problems so therefore charging

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the company for these matters is not right either.

          However the failure to warn and have precautions are part of what the problems is.

          It is claimed that the law that was broken is part of the trip and fall law for the state.  There were no caution signs or warnings for where Mrs. Esposita fell.

II.  Procedural History (PH)

     a.  The court found that Mrs. Esposito was twenty five percent responsible for her fall.

          The court found that Davis was not negligent in any way.

     b.  The court awarded a financial settlement to Mrs. Esposito.  The award was for $45,000 in medical expenses, $190,000 in general damages, and $5,000 to thehusband (who was deceased).

c.       The company MKS Productions, their insurance company Essex Insurance and the employee Mr. Davis appealed the case.  The appeal was filed as it was thought to be unfair for them to be held responsible for the fall when it was an accident that could have happened anywhere.

III. Issues

     a. Substantive Issue:

         i.  The court’s discretion is in question.  This is because after the jury made their decision the court decided that it would not grant an appeal.  The court’s discretion is a big part of how appeals are able to be filed and therefore with this case the decision of the court to not allow the appeal is something that was questioned.  The  court’s discretion was also questioned when an eye witness was able to testify.

         ii.The court did not act inappropriately nor did the jury in their decisions.  However not allowing the appeal was something that might be a problem.  The problem with the court’s discretion in the issue with the eye witness was that the eye witness was allowed to testify over two years after the incident.  She was not a part of the original testimony or investigation therefore why she was allowed to speak in court did not make sense on some levels.  This was that there were problems with the overall issue of her speaking and since she was not an original part of the investigation there were problems with her being able to testify.

      b. Procedural Issue:  The lower court not only did not allow the appeal that was wanted by the defendant but also the lower court allowed testimony from a witness who was not identified as a witness in the original investigation

IV.  Judgement

        The court ordered that it was not an abuse of discretion or judgment for the lower court to not hear the appeal or for the lower court to allow the witness to testify.

        Therefore the judgment was to AFFIRM the lower courts decisions.

V.    Holding

        The law in question was upheld as it was shown that the court did act within it’s discretion and that by acting this way it was a decision that the court had the right to make.  Whether or not the court could act in discretion was not the issue and the discretion was found to be fair.

VI.   Rule of Law or Legal Principle Applied

         The legal principle that was applied was that the court had the right to use discretion and that since the discretion was allowed that the court had not acted in any particular way that would cause problems.

VII.  Reasoning

         The court found that it would be unreasonable for the defendant to be held liable for negligence.  This is because holding an individual responsible for negligence is not thought to be something that should happen when it occurs in an accident. Also the court did agree that Mrs. Esposita was responsible in part for her fall and therefore she was held responsible on these issues.  Furthermore the company was not held to any further responsibility than it had been prior to when the fall occurred in part to the way that the employee had been instructed to stand and therefore him turning and causing Mrs. Esposita to fall was a problem but not something that the company should be held responsible for.

        Furthermore the court had allowed the prior eyewitness for testimony.  The testimony was allowed since the eyewitness was able to discuss the facts well even though she had not been a part of the original investigation.  The court decided that the court’s discretion was not partial in any way and that the testimony of the witness should be allowed.

VIII. Additional Comments/Personal Impressions

         My reactions are that the decision to AFFIRM the original court’s decision is reasonable.  It seems that the company could have done things to make sure that the fair was safer however it also seems that the company or the individual employee should not be held responsible for the interactions on these levels.  Thus being that there were some different issues that were called to light with this case.  The overall different issues being that these areas needed to be thought of and some of the things could have been looked at differently but even with that there are no other problems.


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