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Wednesday, May 29, 2024 | Back issues
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Motorcyclist’s Mistrial Claims Go to Washington

WASHINGTON (CN) - A motorcycle driver who lost his leg in an accident with a truck in South Dakota shall fight for a mistrial in the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices said Monday.

Randy Shauers had been driving a truck that was pulling a camper trailer when he clipped a motorcycle. Gregory Warger, the motorcycle driver, had to have his leg amputated after the 2006 accident, among other injuries.

After Warger sued Shauers, a federal judge in Rapid City issued an in limine order instructing "that experts may offer opinion testimony as to a driver's conduct but may not offer legal opinions as to whether such conduct violates South Dakota law."

The violation of that order by Shauers' attorney led to an initial mistrial, but he nevertheless slipped again in the second trial

The lawyer had been cross-examining an expert witness when he asked whether "Mr. Warger ha[d] to yield to the right-of-way and not enter ... until he [was] certain that the highway [was] free of oncoming traffic," according to a previous ruling.

Though the judge acknowledged that this question represented a violation of the in limine order, he declined to award a second mistrial because he found the violation had not been prejudicial. Instead the court instructed the jury to disregard the question.

After the trial proceeded without further incident, the jury ruled for Shauers.

The 8th Circuit agreed this past June that Warger could not show that the trial court should have given him a second mistrial.

It also found that the evidence was sufficient to support the jury's verdict and that the trial court had not improperly barred expert witnesses from opining on statutes governing the rules of the road.

The U.S. Supreme Court granted Warger a writ of certiorari Monday and issued no comment on its decision, as per its custom.

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