It is well-established under Texas law that attorneys are permitted and expected to advocate zealously on behalf of their clients, but they are subject to limitations with regard to the arguments they can make to the jury. Thus, if an attorney makes an improper argument, the opposing party may have grounds for arguing that the court should vacate the verdict. Recently, a Texas court set forth an opinion in Press Energy Services, LLC and Christopher James Nissley v. Javier Bustillos Ruiz, (Texas State, 8th Court of Appeals), a truck accident case in which the defendant appealed the verdict, explaining the grounds for reversing a judgment on the basis of an improper jury argument. If you suffered injuries in a collision with a commercial truck, it is smart to confer with a trusted Texas truck accident attorney to determine what damages you may be owed.
Procedural History of the Case
It is reported that the plaintiff, who was driving a southbound truck, and the defendant, who was driving a northbound truck, collided in the southbound lane of traffic. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant and his employer, alleging that their gross negligence caused the collision and subsequent damages. The case proceeded to trial, and the jury awarded the plaintiff $3 million in compensatory damages and over $1 million in exemplary damages. The defendants moved for a new trial, but their motion was denied. They then appealed.
Improper Jury Arguments
The defendants set forth numerous arguments on appeal, including the assertion that the plaintiff’s counsel set forth improper arguments to the jury by referencing his client’s Mexican origin. Under Texas law, a party seeking reversal of a judgment based on an improper jury argument must show an error that was not provoked or invited and was preserved at trial by a proper objection, motion for mistrial, or motion to instruct. Continue Reading