A woman who lost her legs after an Indianapolis motorcycle crash isn’t entitled to a new trial even though hearsay evidence was improperly admitted, including her statements that the crash was her fault.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday affirmed a verdict for the defense reached in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. The case is Betty M. Jordan and Theodore R. Jordan v. Kelly D. Binns and U.S. XPress, Inc., 11-2134, and oral arguments were conducted Oct. 12 at Indiana University Maurer School of Law.
Betty Jordan was permanently injured on Aug. 22, 2008, when she was driving a motorcycle eastbound and made contact with a truck driven by Kelly Binns, who said he heard a “banging noise” on his truck and saw the motorcycle sliding on the ground in the passenger rearview mirror.
Binns stopped and ran to help Jordan, and Binns testified that she repeatedly told him, “Tell the trucker it’s not his fault. It’s my fault.” Binns relayed those statements to an Indiana state trooper and claims managers at the company he drove for, U.S. XPress.
A trooper testified that Jordan’s husband, Ted, initially affirmed that Betty told him the accident was her fault, but he later denied making such statements.
The Jordans challenged six pieces of evidence admitted as hearsay, and the 7th Circuit agreed that some were. Nevertheless, the errors weren’t significant enough to warrant a new trial, the judges wrote in a 33-page ruling.
“Not only was the improperly admitted evidence cumulative, but the other evidence presented at trial strongly favored the defendants’ position,” Judge Johh Daniel Tinder wrote for the panel.
“Even though the central issue at trial was fault, the cumulative nature of the improperly admitted evidence coupled with this additional evidence leads us to conclude that the improper evidence did not have a substantial effect on the jury’s verdict,” Tinder wrote.