ST. LOUIS — A jury verdict in favor of the Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission (MHTC) involving allegations that malfunctioning traffic signals led to an auto collision will stand, an appeals court ruled.
The Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District on Sept. 5 upheld the verdict arising from St. Louis Circuit Court Judge David Mason's court in July 2016.
Plaintiff Samuel L. Moore had sued the MHTC over a Sept. 27, 2013, crash that involved Candice Malloyd. Moore was traveling westbound on Martin Luther King Drive and Malloyd was northbound on Jefferson Street in St. Louis; both drivers maintained they had green lights as they approached the intersection, according to background information in the ruling. When their vehicles collided, Moore's vehicle struck another vehicle that was stopped southbound at the intersection.
After a jury trial, Moore filed a motion for new trial in which he first objected to the trial court's actions during pretrial jury selection, known as voir dire, and during his cross-examination of a maintenance manager for MHTC. When his motion for new trial was denied, Moore appealed.
His points on appeal included an argument that the trial court erred by not allowing him to pursue a line of questioning in voir dire, which resulted in certain jury panel members allowing to remain for trial, despite expressing potential bias.
He also argued that the trial court erred in not allowing him to cross-examine MHTC's maintenance manager about the late disclosure of certain discovery documents.
The appeals court concluded that Moore failed to preserve in the record his objection to the trial court's actions in voir dire.
"Furthermore, a party who is aware of information affecting a potential juror’s qualification to serve as a juror must challenge the potential juror before the person is sworn as a juror, or the party waives any objection to the juror on the basis of that information and cannot assert the objection in a motion for new trial following an adverse verdict," the ruling states.
The appeals court also held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in limiting Moore's cross examination of the maintenance manager about the late turnover of discovery documents, "which had no relevance to the issues before the jury to decide."
There was no "injustice" here, the ruling states.
"We note again that Appellant did not object or make a record during trial to preserve this issue for appeal, and therefore this point merits, if any, plain error review. The failure to raise alleged errors during trial renders them unpreserved for our review," according to the ruling.
The three-judge panel included Sherri Sullivan, Robert Dowd and Kurt Odenwald.