Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Third Division
from the Circuit Court of St. Louis County 11SL-CC02615
Honorable Tom W. DePriest, Jr. Judge.
M. GAERTNER JR. PRESIDING JUDGE.
Webb, Jr. (Webb) appeals from the judgment of the trial court
entering a directed verdict in favor of Ronica M. Adams
(Adams) in Webb's negligence action arising from a motor
vehicle collision. On appeal, Webb asserts the directed
verdict was improper because he made a submissible case for
Adams' negligence. We reverse and remand for a new trial
in accordance with this opinion.
and Adams were involved in a motor vehicle accident on April
13, 2011. Webb filed a petition for damages asserting Adams
was negligent in that she: (1) operated her vehicle at an
excessive speed, (2) failed to keep a careful lookout, (3)
failed to yield, and (4) failed to slow down, stop, swerve,
or sound a warning. Webb asserted that as a direct result of
Adams' actions, he both suffered permanent injuries to
his body for which he incurred medical expenses and lost
wages, and incurred expenses associated with the damage to
his vehicle. Adams denied Webb's allegations of
negligence and asserted as an affirmative defense that
Webb's injuries were caused in whole or in part by his
own carelessness and negligence.
trial, Webb introduced the following evidence, viewed in the
light most favorable to Webb. Webb admitted Adams'
deposition testimony in which she testified that she was
stopped in the left-turn lane on New Halls Ferry Road waiting
to turn left across the intersection. Her light was green,
but she did not have a green arrow, which she understood to
mean "proceed with caution" or yield. She saw an
oncoming vehicle pull out of a gas station and approach the
intersection, but the vehicle pulled into the opposite
left-turn lane and stopped. Because the oncoming car was
stopped, she decided to make her left turn across New Halls
Ferry. As she "was proceeding to turn, " she
noticed "at the last minute" the oncoming vehicle
veer into the intersection. She applied her brakes, but she
was not able to stop in time and her vehicle struck the
oncoming vehicle on the mid-rear driver's side.
testified he exited a QuikTrip car wash and merged into the
center/left-turn lane heading southbound at the intersection
of New Halls Ferry Road and Dunn Road by the 270 interstate.
He then merged from the left-turn lane into the through lane
and stopped at the red light. When the light turned green, he
"went to proceed" straight through the
intersection. He did not remember Adams' vehicle
colliding with his. He woke up in the hospital with neck,
head, and back pain. The next day, he secured the services of
his attorney, who referred him to Dr. Doumit. Dr. Doumit
treated Webb for headaches, dizziness, and pain in his neck,
mid back, and low back. Webb introduced exhibits documenting
the damage to his vehicle.
admitted several portions of his medical records from the
hospital where he was taken immediately after the accident,
detailing his injuries. Hospital records indicated Webb
reported he was traveling at 20-30 miles per hour when the
accident occurred, but Webb introduced no evidence of
Adams' speed. Webb admitted an exhibit showing that
various medical providers had billed him $22, 734.60, and the
amount necessary to satisfy those providers was $16, 621.50.
close of Webb's evidence, Adams moved for a directed
verdict, arguing that Webb failed to adduce evidence of any
negligence by Adams that could have caused the accident, in
that Webb testified he did not remember the accident at all
and Adams' deposition testimony did not establish
negligence. Webb responded that he had set forth sufficient
evidence to make a submissible case for negligence in that he
testified he was driving straight through the intersection,
and Adams testified in her deposition that she was turning
left in an intersection where she was required to yield. Webb
argued his evidence was sufficient to establish Adams'
negligence causing the accident and his subsequent injuries.
The trial court granted Adams' motion and entered
judgment in her favor. Webb filed a motion for new trial,
which the trial court denied. This appeal follows.
review the trial court's grant or denial of a motion for
directed verdict for whether the plaintiff made a submissible
case. Am. Fam. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Coke, 358 S.W.3d
576, 579 (Mo. App. E.D. 2012). Whether the plaintiff made a
submissible case is a question of law that we review de novo.
Id. To make a submissible case, the plaintiff must
present substantial evidence tending to prove the facts
essential to recovery, and if the plaintiff fails to do so,
then the defendant is entitled to a directed verdict.
Id. We view the evidence and all reasonable
inferences in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and
disregard all contrary inferences. Id. "If
reasonable minds can draw different conclusions from the
facts, a directed verdict is not proper." Saunders
v. Baska, 397 S.W.3d 44, 47 (Mo. App. W.D. 2013)
sole point on appeal, Webb argues the trial court erred in
directing a verdict in favor of Adams at the close of
Webb's evidence because he presented substantial evidence
of Adams' negligence, in that Adams turned left and
struck Webb's vehicle when she did not have the
right-of-way, she failed to take measures to avoid the