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Fayette v. Reyes

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

August 21, 2019

Teresa M. FAYETTE, Appellant
v.
Luciano REYES and ABC Trucking, Appellees

          From the 37th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No. 2015CI04948 Honorable Michael E. Mery, Judge Presiding

          Sitting: Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice Luz Elena D. Chapa, Justice Irene Rios, Justice

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Irene Rios, Justice.

         Teresa M. Fayette appeals from a take-nothing judgment in her negligence suit arising from a motor vehicle collision. On appeal, Fayette argues: (1) the jury's failure to find one of the parties negligent was against the great weight and preponderance of the evidence; (2) the trial court erred in denying her motion for new trial; and (3) the trial court erred in redacting parts of the police report. We affirm.

         Background

         Fayette sued Luciano Reyes and his employer, ABC Trucking, (collectively, "Reyes"), for negligence and gross negligence. In her petition, Fayette alleged she suffered injuries when Reyes, who was driving a commercial motor vehicle in the course and scope of his employment, "recklessly collided" into the car she was driving. The case was tried to a jury. The jury found that neither Fayette nor Reyes's negligence proximately caused the occurrence in question. Specifically, the jury answered Question No. 1 as follows:

         Did the negligence, if any, of those named below proximately cause the occurrence in question?

         Answer 'Yes' or 'No' for each of the following:

a. Luciano Reyes No
b. Teresa M. Fayette No

         In accordance with the jury's verdict, the trial court rendered a take-nothing judgment on Fayette's claims.

         Thereafter, Fayette filed a motion for new trial, arguing, among other things, that the jury's decision to not assign negligence to one of the parties in the absence of an inferential rebuttal instruction was against the great weight and preponderance of the evidence. The trial court held a hearing on the motion for new trial and subsequently denied the motion. Fayette appealed.

         The Jury's Failure to Assign Negligence

         In her first issue, Fayette argues the jury's failure to assign negligence to one of the parties was against the great weight and preponderance of the evidence. Fayette's main argument is that "the jury was required to find someone at fault" because the jury charge did not include an inferential rebuttal instruction. The purpose of an inferential rebuttal instruction is to advise the jury, in the appropriate case, that it does not have to place blame on a party to the suit if the evidence shows that the occurrence was caused by conditions ...


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