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Firm News

Ezequiel Lugo Obtains Appellate Opinion Affirming Defense Verdict From 5th DCA

June 25, 2020

Ezequiel Lugo obtained an appellate opinion affirming a defense verdict in the Fifth District Court of Appeal.
 
The appeal involved an automobile negligence case where the parties disputed whether the plaintiff or defendant had run a red light.  The issue on appeal was whether the trial court  should have excluded testimony, on cross-examination, from the investigating police officer that the plaintiff ran the red light.
 
On direct examination, the plaintiff elicited testimony from the policy officer that the accident report stated "ran the red light" as a contributing cause to the accident.  The defense asked the trial court to allow the officer to testify as to who ran the red light because the testimony on direct created an inference that the defendant ran the red light, but the report said it was the plaintiff who did so.  The trial court ruled that the defendant could ask the question on cross-examination because the plaintiff had "opened the door" during the police officer's direct examination.
 
The plaintiff appealed after the jury rendered a defense verdict. The plaintiff raised multiple arguments on appeal based on the accident report privilege, improper testimony about fault, and fundamental error. Ezequiel Lugo argued that the issue had been waived because the plaintiff did not object to the specific question on cross-examination, did not object to the officer's testimony on direct, did not move to strike that testimony, and did not move for a mistrial on direct. Ezequiel also argued that the trial court did not abuse its discretion because the record showed that the plaintiff had "opened the door" by eliciting the testimony that the officer's report said "ran the red light," so there was no error.
 
The appellate court agreed with Ezequiel and issued a per curiam affirmance.
 
The case is  Quinones v. Lovelle, No. 5D19-959, 2020 WL 3397374 (Fla. 5th DCA June 16, 2020).
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