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Mason v. C.R. England, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri

October 22, 2019

E DEREK MASON and MICHELLE MASON, Plaintiffs,
v.
C.R. ENGLAND, INC. and MATTHEW SMITH, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JEAN C. HAMILTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motions for Partial Summary Judgement (ECF Nos. 59, 64), Defendants Motion to Limit the Testimony of Plaintiff's Pain Management Expert (ECF No. 55) and Defendant's Motion to Limit the Testimony of Plaintiff's Vocational Rehabilitation Expert. (ECF No. 57). The Motions are fully briefed and ready for disposition.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff's cause of action arises out of a motor vehicle accident on March 5, 2017. (ECF No. 61 ¶ 1). Defendant Smith was operating a tractor-trailer on eastbound Interstate 70 near its intersection with Interstate 270 in St. Louis County, Missouri. Id. ¶ 2. Defendant Smith struck an emergency vehicle, a police vehicle, that was stopped on the highway or the shoulder with its lights flashing. Id. Plaintiff Derek Mason was in the front passenger side of the police vehicle. Id. ¶ 3.

         At the time of the accident, Defendant Smith was employed by Defendant C.R. England. Id. ¶ 4. Defendant CR England has admitted that Defendant Smith was acting within the scope of his employment. Id. The parties dispute the following events:

         Defendant Smith testified that he was initially in the right lane when he saw emergency vehicles stopped ahead of him. Id. ¶ 9, citing Deposition of Matthew Smith, at 52:12-54:5. Defendant Smith further testified that, after seeing the emergency vehicles, he moved to the center lane and used his turn signal. Id. Defendant Smith testified that he looked down for a second or two due to some commotion inside the cab; that when he looked back up he was on top of the parked police vehicle; and that he did not know how far he may have traveled while looking down. Id. ¶ 10 citing Smith Depo. at 52:12-22, 54:16-55:10; 56:25-57:80; 60:25-61:20. Defendant Smith also testified that he tried to swerve back to the left to avoid hitting the police vehicle. Id. ¶ 11 citing Smith Depo. at 65:18-66:20. Defendant Smith believes that the parked police vehicle was over the white line that divided the right lane of traffic with the shoulder and that his tractor-trailer never went onto the right shoulder. Id. ¶¶ 14-15, citing Smith Depo. at 126:13-127:10; 60:17-22.

         Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Smith's testimony can be contradicted by their witness, Mr. Jonathan Cruz. Mr. Cruz testified that he was traveling behind the tractor-trailer when the crash occurred. (ECF No. 78, at 7 (citing Deposition of Jonathan Cruz at 16:1-19)). Mr. Cruz stated that he was traveling either in the middle or left lane when he saw bright flashing lights on the right side of the highway. Id., citing Cruz Depo. at 16:1-12. Mr. Cruz testified that he was:

traveling about 65, 70 that morning heading downtown, and in front of me I saw a tractor-trailer obviously going faster than me because he was…way ahead of me. But from a distance I saw the tractor-trailer start going from the middle lane and kind of - as if someone was either…not paying attention... fell asleep and started drifting, and that's when I noticed, when he stated drifting… the truck hit both vehicles and then kept going. And there was that third vehicle that they had originally pulled over. Once he hit that third vehicle, the truck hit the… guardrail on the right side, bounced back over to the middle of the highway, and that's when I stopped…in front of the truck over there.

Id., citing Cruz Depo. at 16:20-17:19. Mr. Cruz also testified that he observed the tractor-trailer in front of him in the middle lane of Interstate 70. Id., citing Cruz Depo. at 18:5-10.

         The front passenger side of the tractor-trailer operated by Defendant Smith hit the rear driver side of the police vehicle. (ECF No. 61, ¶ 13). Defendants have stipulated that Defendant Smith was negligent in connection with the operation of his vehicle at the time of the accident. Id. ¶ 25 (citing ECF No. 32, Stipulation). As a result of the accident, Plaintiffs have filed their Complaint which contains the following nine counts.

I. Negligence against Defendant Smith
II. Negligence Per Se against Defendant Smith
III. Vicarious Liability against Defendant C.R. England for Defendant Smith's Negligence
IV. Vicarious Liability against Defendant C.R. England for Defendant Smith's Negligence Per Se V. Independent Negligence against Defendant C.R. England
VI. Direct Negligence against Defendant C.R. England for Negligent ...

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