A Texas court of appeals recently approved of a jury verdict dismissing the plaintiff’s claims in a car crash case that became a wrongful death action after the lead plaintiff committed suicide, according to Texas Lawyer.
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Huffines v. Buxton stemmed from a 2011 Houston car accident occuring after Barbara Buxton drove her car through a divided thoroughfare and David Huffines collided with her vehicle. No airbags deployed in either vehicle and neither required immediate medical attention.
However, Huffines began experiencing pain and discomfort shortly after the accident in his neck, back and groin: all locations where he had pre-existing conditions. Huffines’ pain intensified and he told friends and family he was contemplating suicide. While the case was pending, he took his own life.
Huffines’ family turned the case he filed in a Harris County district court into a wrongful death action.
Huffines’ deposition testimony stated a Thermos cup he was holding pressed into his abdomen and groin when the crash occurred, causing his injuries. However, defense attorneys elicited testimony from his surviving family members about his previous hernia surgery and previous head and neck injuries from a collision 11 years prior.
A jury determined Buxton’s negligence caused neither Huffines’ injuries nor his death. The Huffines family appealed the judgment to Houston’s Fourteenth Court of Appeals, arguing among other things the evidence was “legally factually insufficient” to support the jury’s finding.
Justice Tracy Christopher issued an opinion concluding the plaintiffs’ legal sufficiency challenge failed because the case’s record contained evidence from which the jury could have reasonably concluded Huffines’ injuries and death were not caused by Buxton.
“The jury heard testimony that the accident with Barbara [Buxton] was relatively minor: no air bags deployed; no one complained of injuries at the scene of the accident; and both parties drove away without the assistance of the police, emergency medical personnel, or a tow truck driver,” Christopher wrote.
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