ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES:
C. WARREN HOLLAND RICHARD D. WAGNER
MICHAEL W. HOLLAND THOMAS J. COSTAKIS
Holland & Holland JEFFREY C. McDERMOTT
Indianapolis, Indiana Krieg DeVault Alexander & Capehart
MORRIS L. KLAPPER
Klapper Isaac & Parish WILLIAM T. PLESEC
Indianapolis, Indiana PAUL D. KOETHE
KEVIN D. BOYCE
Jones, Day, Revis & Pogue
JAMES W. RILEY, JR.
Riley Bennett & Egloff
AARON H. MARKS
Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP
New York, NY
IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF INDIANA
YVONNE ROGERS, Individually and as ) Executrix of the Estate of RICHARD ROGERS, ) Deceased, ) ) Appellant-Plaintiff, ) ) vs. ) No. 49A02-9808-CV-668 R.J. REYNOLDS TOBACCO CO., PHILIP ) MORRIS INCORPORATED, THE AMERICAN ) TOBACCO CO., INC., and LIGGETT GROUP, ) INC., ) ) Appellees-Defendants. )
APPEAL FROM THE MARION SUPERIOR COURT
June 30, 2000
OPINION - FOR PUBLICATION
2. Whether the trial court erred in denying Rogers Motion for Relief from
Judgment under Ind.Trial Rule 60(B) based on newly discovered evidence.
3. Whether the trial court erred in instructing the jury on the defense of incurred risk and on the meaning of defective product.
4. Whether the trial court erred in the exclusion of certain evidence.
5. Whether the trial court erred by denying Rogers Motion to Amend her Complaint
to include a claim that the Defendants were engaged in an abnormally dangerous
Rogers v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 557 N.E.2d 1045, 1047-1049 (Ind. Ct. App.
In that decision, we concluded that:
the trial court properly granted summary judgment on the strict liability claim for failing to warn of the addictive qualities of cigarettes on and after January 1, 1966. It also properly granted summary judgment on the numerous fraud claims, Yvonne's claims on behalf of the estate for punitive damages, and her individual claim for the wrongful infliction of emotional distress. However, the trial court erred in granting summary judgment on the strict liability claim for failing to warn of the addictive qualities of cigarettes before January 1, 1966; the strict liability and negligence claims for design defects; and Yvonne's individual claim for loss of consortium, including punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages.
Id. at 1057. Thus, we affirmed the trial courts judgment in part,
reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings in accordance with that opinion.
Subsequently, on December 2, 1993, Rogers moved for partial summary judgment on the issues of whether the distribution of cigarettes is an abnormally dangerous activity and whether Richard Rogers voluntarily incurred the risk of smoking cigarettes. On April 26, 1994, the trial court denied Rogers motion on the grounds that there were genuine issues of material fact.
On November 4, 1994, Rogers filed her Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint for Damages to add the theory that Defendants distribution of cigarettes was an abnormally dangerous activity. On December 1, 1994, the trial court denied Rogers motion to amend.
The trial commenced on January 31, 1995. On February 23, 1995, after two days of deliberations, the court declared a mistrial when the jury advised the court that it was hopelessly deadlocked. The retrial commenced on August 5, 1996. Before reading the verdict, the trial judge announced that the court had granted the jurys request to hold a press conference in the courtroom and to make a public statement after the reading of the verdict. On August 23, 1996, the court entered judgment on the jury verdict, finding for Defendants. Rogers now appeals.
In circumstances of ex parte communications between the trial judge and the jury, the preferred method of communicating with the jury is on the record in open court. Smith v. Convenience Store Distributing Co., 583 N.E.2d 735, 738 (Ind. 1992). When jurors request additional guidance from the court, the proper procedure is for the judge to notify the parties so that they may be present in court before the judge communicates with the jury. Id. at 737; Martin v. State, 535 N.E.2d 493 (Ind. 1989); Averhart v. State, 470 N.E.2d 666 (Ind. 1984). An inference of prejudice arises from an ex parte communication and this inference creates a rebuttable presumption that error has been committed. Martin, 535 N.E.2d at 497. However, if an explanation for the communication is given, and we are satisfied that no harm resulted, then the judgment will be allowed to stand. Smith, 583 N.E.2d at 738. Additionally, when the trial judge merely responds to a jury question by denying the request, any inference of prejudice is rebutted and any error is deemed harmless. Moffatt v. State, 542 N.E.2d 971, 974 (Ind. 1989); Martin, 535 N.E.2d at 497. Further, this Court has held that the harmless error rule applies to a trial courts ex parte denial of jury requests, regardless of whether counsel is present or not. Johnson v. State, 674 N.E.2d 180, 183 (Ind. Ct. App. 1996). Finally, in determining whether the presumption of harm has been rebutted, we evaluate the nature of the communication to the jury and the effect it might have had upon a fair determination. Smith, 583 N.E.2d at 738; Marsillett v. State, 495 N.E.2d 699, 709 (Ind. 1986).
Ind. Code § 34-36-1-6 further delineates the procedure to be followed when the jury requests additional information after retiring to deliberate:
If, after the jury retires for deliberation:
(1) there is a
disagreement among the jurors as to any part of
the testimony; or
(2) the jury desires to be
informed as to any point of law
arising in the case;
the jury may request the officer to conduct them
into court, where the
information required shall be given in the presence of, or after notice to,
the parties or the attorneys representing the parties.
Ind. Code § 34-36-1-6 (emphasis supplied) (formerly Ind. Code § 34-1-21-6).
This statute has been construed to require the judge, where the jury expresses disagreement regarding testimony, to read to the jury any properly admitted testimony or documentary evidence. Kiner v. State, 643 N.E.2d 950, 955 (Ind. Ct. App. 1994). Further, the judge is also to respond to a jurys request that seeks clarification on legal issues. Id. However, the statute has not been construed to mean that failure to so inform the jury is reversible error per se. Id. Thus, the trial court must exercise discretion in determining whether certain questions of the jury should be answered. Id.
In Smith v. Convenience Store Distributing Co., 583 N.E.2d 745, our supreme court found reversible error because the trial judge spoke to the jury during deliberations about information that was not within the purview of what the parties attorneys had permitted the judge to speak to the jury about outside their presence. The parties attorneys had given the judge permission to speak to the jury to determine (1) whether the jury wanted to retire for the evening and return the next morning to continue deliberations, and (2) the numerical split among the jurors, without reference to in whose favor the jury was split. Smith, 583 N.E.2d at 737. However, during the discussion, one of the jurors asked what would happen if the jury remained deadlocked. Id. The judge indicated that the parties had unsuccessfully mediated the case, that he did not believe the case would be settled, and if the jury was hung, the case would probably have to be retried. Id.
In that case, our supreme court noted that the process of jury deliberation is a sensitive point in the trial, and explained that:
Deliberation is the process by which the jury resolves the dispute before it on the basis of the evidence and instructions given in open court. Deliberations are to be free of extraneous influence so this purpose can be fulfilled. When this process is interrupted by an ex parte communication, the presumption is that the jury is influenced.
Smith, 583 N.E.2d at 738. The Court further reasoned that:
Given that the question was posed by the juror in the first place, we do not accept that the effect of a failure to render a verdict was so apparent to the jury. Additionally, the information provided by the judge was not necessarily accurate because the parties may well have negotiated a settlement rather than incur the costs associated with a second trial. Finally, it is reasonably possible that advice from the judge that another jury will have to hear the same evidence in a new trial may have induced the jury members to prove themselves capable of resolving the controversy rather than forfeiting the opportunity to another group.
Id. Furthermore, because approximately ten minutes after the judge spoke to the jury, the jury returned a verdict, our supreme court found that the presumption of error was further supported by the short time interval between the judges comments and the verdict, because the sudden turn of events was evidence that the judges comments had influenced the jurys verdict. Id.
However, the case at hand is quite different from present Indiana case law regarding ex parte communication between a trial judge and the jury. In our case, neither partys counsel was present when the trial judge responded to the jurys request. Also, the jury did not request additional guidance, was not in disagreement as to any part of the testimony, and did not desire to be informed as to any point of law arising in the case. Furthermore, after the trial judge gave his one word affirmative response to the jurys request to hold a press conference, the jury deliberated for an additional seven hours before returning a verdict.
Nevertheless, as we previously stated, an inference of prejudice arises from an ex parte communication and this inference creates a rebuttable presumption that error has been committed, Martin, 535 N.E.2d at 497, but, if an explanation for the communication is given, and we are satisfied that no harm resulted, then the judgment will be allowed to stand. Smith, 583 N.E.2d at 738. In this case, the trial court judge did give an explanation for his ex parte communication with the jury, however, we are not satisfied that no harm resulted.
Allowing the jury to hold a press conference is an invitation for controversy, because a press conference gives the jury the opportunity to explain its verdict, thereby inviting the parties to challenge the verdict based on what the jury said at the press conference. However, Indiana adheres to the common law rule that a verdict may not be impeached by evidence from the jurors who returned it. Dawson v. Hummer, 649 N.E.2d 653, 664 (Ind. Ct. App. 1995). Therefore, although we recognize that jurors are free to discuss their deliberations post verdict, a press conference may create a situation where a jury makes a statement after it has returned its verdict, indicating improprieties in arriving at its verdict, but no remedy exists to cure the improprieties because a jurys verdict cannot be impeached by what it said at the press conference.
Furthermore, in order to evaluate the harm or prejudice to Rogers of the judges ex parte communication outside the presence of both parties, we can only evaluate what the jury stated at the press conference. However, any statements made at the press conference as reported by the Wall Street Journal, amount to hearsay, and also, the jurys verdict cannot be impeached by what was said at the press conference. Therefore, because an inference of prejudice arises from an ex parte communication, and because we can only evaluate the harm or prejudice that resulted from the ex parte communication by evaluating what the jury said at the press conference, which we cannot do, there is no evidence available to rebut the presumption that error has been committed.
Additionally, the jurys request to hold a press conference does not amount to a housekeeping request. Instead, the request had a direct effect on the deliberations because we must assume that the jurys request to hold a press conference was motivated by a desire to explain its method in arriving at its verdict, and therefore, the statements to be made at the press conference were in all likelihood discussed during deliberations. As such, the jurys request was one the judge should have raised on the record in open court with the presence of both parties counsel, prior to responding to the jurys request. After consultation with the parties, the trial judge could have responded yes, no, I will not answer that question until after you have reached a verdict, or some other response with an admonition that his decision as to whether the jury could hold a press conference should play no part in its deliberations. The fact that the trial judge granted the jurys request to hold a press conference after it reached a verdict, during deliberations, without informing either party as to his decision, further undermines public confidence in the jurys verdict. In this case, although the jury deliberated for another seven hours after receiving permission to hold a press conference, the jury had the opportunity to discuss during deliberations what it would say at the press conference, thereby affecting the outcome of the verdict. Specifically, if a particular juror was uneasy about rendering a verdict in favor of the tobacco company Defendants, the opportunity to hold a press conference following the reading of the verdict may have cured this uneasiness by allowing this juror to explain his or her decision to the public.
Therefore, we find that the judges ex parte communication with the jury is reversible error because the presumption of error regarding ex parte communication cannot be rebutted without considering what the jury said at the press conference. This we cannot and will not do.
I am, and have been for a number of years, a Director of
Liggett Group Inc., a manufacturer of cigarettes. Cigarettes were identified as a
cause of lung cancer and other diseases as early as 1950. I,
personally, am not a scientist. But, like all of you, I am
aware of the many reports concerning the ill effects of cigarette smoking.
We at Liggett know and acknowledge that, as the surgeon [sic] General and
respected medical researchers have found, cigarette smoking causes health problems, including lung cancer,
heart and vascular disease and emphysema. We at Liggett also know and
acknowledge that, as the Surgeon General, the Food and Drug Administration and respected
medical researchers have found, nicotine is addictive.
Liggett will continue to engage in the legal activity of selling cigarettes to
adults, but will endeavor to ensure that these adult smokers are aware of
the health risks and addictive nature of smoking.
(R. 403, emphasis added).
On August 23, 1996, the trial court entered judgment on the jury verdict in favor of the Defendants. On September 23, 1996, Rogers filed the praecipe. On or about March 21, 1997, LeBow issued the public statement on behalf of Liggett Group, Inc. admitting that nicotine is addictive and cigarette smoking causes health problems, including lung cancer. On June 13, 1997, Rogers initiated the appeal by filing the Record of Proceedings with this court. On July 2, 1997, Rogers filed with this court a verified Petition for Leave to File Motion for Relief from Judgment Under Trial Rule 60(B). On August 5, 1997, this court granted Rogers petition and remanded the case to the trial court for the purpose of Rogers filing therein her Motion for Relief from Judgment. On August 22, 1997, Rogers filed in the trial court her Motion for Relief from Judgment under Trial Rule 60(B). Although Rogers motion did not specify any of the eight reasons listed in T.R. 60 as grounds for a trial court to relieve a party from the entry of final judgment, it is clear from Rogers motion and appellate brief that she relies on the newly discovered evidence provision of T.R. 60(B). On July 17, 1998, the trial court denied Rogers motion.
Rogers argues that LeBows post-trial admission was newly discovered evidence that warranted relief from judgment and a new trial. Rogers contends that there was no evidence at trial consisting of admissions by a tobacco manufacturer that cigarette smoking is a cause of lung cancer or that nicotine is addictive. Moreover, at trial the Defendants jointly challenged any opinions of the cancer causing and addictive qualities of cigarettes, and also introduced expert testimony dispelling Rogers claims with respect to the damages of cigarette smoking.
Essentially, Rogers argues that Liggetts admissions by LeBow were directly contrary to Liggetts position taken throughout the course of the litigation. Further, the evidence indicates that before the second trial, LeBow came to the conclusion that cigarettes are addictive and cause lung cancer; however, he maintained a contrary position throughout the second trial. Thus, Rogers asserts that the newly discovered evidence of LeBows statement would significantly bolster her contention that nicotine is addictive and that Richard was an addicted smoker who developed lung cancer from cigarette smoking.
The burden is on the movant to establish the grounds for T.R. 60(B) relief. McIntyre v. Baker, 703 N.E.2d 172, 174 (Ind. Ct. App. 1998). It is clear that newly discovered evidence is a ground for relief under T.R. 60(B)(2). The movant has the burden of demonstrating that such evidence by due diligence could not have been discovered in time to move for a motion to correct errors under Rule 59. Id. Under Trial Rule 59 a motion to correct errors must be filed not later than thirty days after judgment. It is true that [a]ny . . . issue which was raised by, or could have been raised by a timely motion to correct errors and a timely direct appeal may not be the subject of a motion for relief from judgment under T.R. 60. Snider v. Geddis, 413 N.E.2d 322, 326 (Ind. Ct. App. 1980). This is because T.R. 60(B) is meant to afford relief from circumstances which could not have been discovered during the period a motion to correct error could have been filed; it is not meant to be used as a substitute for a direct appeal or to revive an expired attempt to appeal. Id. at 324.
In the case of newly discovered evidence, the movant must establish that the evidence is material and relevant, that it is not cumulative, and that it will probably produce a different result. Cullison v. Medley, 619 N.E.2d 937, 945(Ind. Ct. App. 1993). A motion made under subdivision (B) of T.R. 60 is addressed to the equitable discretion of the trial court; the grant or denial of the T.R. 60(B) motion will be disturbed only when that discretion has been abused. Fairfield v. Fairfield, 538 N.E.2d 948, 949-50 (Ind. 1989). In making the decision, the trial court is required to balance the alleged injustice suffered by the party moving for relief against the interests of the winning party and society in general in the finality of litigation. Chelovich v. Ruff & Silvian Agency, 551 N.E.2d 890, 892 (Ind. 1990). Abuse of discretion will be found only when the trial courts action is clearly erroneous, that is, against the logic and effect of the facts before it and the inferences which may be draw therefrom. Fairfield, 538 N.E.2d at 950.
Defendants argue that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Rogers T.R. 60(B) motion because Rogers failed to demonstrate any abuse of discretion by the trial court in denying the motion.
Defendants concede that the documents on which Rogers relies for her newly discovered evidence claim establish that LeBow made admissions that he believes smoking is addictive and causes lung cancer. However, Defendants argue that these same documents reflecting the statements made by LeBow on which Rogers relies, were made pursuant to and required by the settlement of other tobacco litigation. First, Defendants contend that the motivation for LeBows public statement is made apparent from the following sentence: In accordance with our settlement agreements, Liggett agrees to fully cooperate with the Attorneys General and Settlement Class Counsel in their lawsuits against other tobacco companies. (R. 403). Second, Defendants argue that LeBows deposition, which was taken on June 24, 1997, was taken for a different case pending in a Florida state court and amounts to hearsay in the case at hand. Finally, Defendants argue that Liggetts Responses are dated October 15, 1997, and post date the August 1996 trial date.
Rogers initiated discovery pursuant to Trial Rule 60(B) following the filing of her Motion for Relief from Judgment by requesting responses from Liggett to her requests for admissions. Liggetts relevant responses to Rogers requests for admissions are as follows:
REQUEST NO. 1: That each of the following documents, exhibited with this request, is a correct and true copy and is genuine:
a. Exhibit 1, Sworn Deposition of Bennett LeBow given on June 24, 1997.
b. Exhibit 2, Statement of Bennett S. LeBow dated March 21, 1997.
RESPONSE: Liggett admits that, as the Surgeon General, the Food and Drug
Administration and respected medical researchers have found, nicotine is addictive.
REQUEST NO. 5: Cigarette smoking is a cause of lung cancer.
RESPONSE: Liggett admits that, as the Surgeon General and respected medical researchers
have found, cigarette smoking causes health problems, including lung cancer.
(R. 756, 761-62). Defendants do not attack the substance of the Responses,
but instead, they contend that the responses concerning nicotine and lung cancer were
not related to any time frame and were made and effective more than
a year after judgment was entered on August 26, 1996.
Nevertheless, Rogers argues that the newly discovered evidence consisting of all three documents warranted relief from the judgment and a new trial because: (1) the evidence is admissible, (2) the evidence is relevant and material, (3) the evidence is not cumulative, (4) the evidence concerns facts which were in existence at the time of trial, (5) Rogers did not fail to exercise due diligence to discover the evidence, and (6) the evidence would alter the outcome of the trial.
First, Rogers claims that LeBows statement and deposition testimony are admissible because they constitute the statement of a party opponent under Ind. Evidence Rule 801(d)(2). Specifically, Rogers argues that under Evid.R. 801(d)(2)(A) LeBows statement was made on behalf of Liggett in his representative capacity. Further, Liggett has manifested an adoption or belief in its truth under subpart (B), as evidenced by Liggetts Responses to Rogers Requests for Admissions. Additionally, Rogers claims that LeBows statement falls under the scope of subpart (C) because the statement was made by a person authorized by Liggett to make the statement, and also under subpart (D) because the statement was made by LeBow, as Liggetts agent, concerning a matter within the scope of the agency and made during the existence of the agency relationship. Finally, Rogers asserts that LeBows deposition testimony is admissible under Ind. Trial Rule 32(A) for the use of deposition and as former testimony under Evid.R. 804(b)(1).
However, Defendants argue that the newly discovered evidence was neither admitted nor admissible into evidence. Specifically, Defendants claim that although Rogers filed the three documents with the trial court, the trial court never admitted into evidence any of the documents, and Rogers never attempted to read into the Record any portion of LeBows deposition or Liggetts Responses. Therefore, because she failed to introduce any evidence supporting her motion, Rogers cannot claim error in the denial of the motion because Rogers, as the movant bears the burden of establishing the existence of valid grounds for relief and her motion under T.R. 60(B)(2) must be supported by evidence admitted into the Record.
Further, Defendants argue that Rogers shotgun approach of arguments why LeBows statement is admissible lacks authority and accuracy. First, we agree with Defendants contention that T.R. 32(A) has no application to a deposition taken in a lawsuit pending in a court of a different state. Second, Evid.R. 804(b)(1) provides that former testimony is not excluded by the hearsay rule if the declarant is unavailable as a witness, and Rogers failed to establish that LeBow was unavailable as a witness at trial. Third, Rogers failed to establish that LeBow was authorized in an individual or representative capacity, or by Liggetts entire board of directors to speak on behalf of Liggett as required by Evid.R. 801(d)(2)(A) and (C). Fourth, LeBows mere personal opinions cannot bind Liggett, and that even if an agency relationship existed; Rogers failed to establish that LeBow spoke to matters within the scope of his agency in order to have the statement admitted under Evid.R. 801(d)(2)(D). Finally, LeBows statement and deposition is inadmissible under Evid.R. 403 because they were made pursuant to separate litigation at the request of counsel to settle the litigation and avoid bankruptcy. Therefore, we find substantial evidence to support Defendants contention that LeBows statement is inadmissible.
Rogers next argues that the evidence is relevant and material because Liggetts admissions directly contradict Defendants position taken at trial that nicotine is not addictive. Moreover, Rogers contends that Liggetts admissions are material and relevant to Rogers allegations regarding the unreasonably dangerous nature of Defendants products and have a tendency to show that cigarettes are addictive and cause cancer.
However, as we previously discussed, Liggetts Responses to Rogers Request for Admissions were given more than one year subsequent to the August 1996 trial date. Further, Rogers had the opportunity to request admissions from Liggett before the trial, but failed to perform any discovery with respect to Defendants until she initiated discovery pursuant to Trial Rule 60(B) following the filing of her Motion for Relief from Judgment.
Third, Rogers argues that the evidence is not cumulative because throughout the course of litigation, Defendants neither admitted to nor introduced evidence that nicotine is addictive or cigarettes cause lung cancer, instead, Defendants consistently disputed these contentions. Essentially, Rogers claims that evidence of an admission by a tobacco manufacturer that its product is addictive and causes cancer is evidence that was not available to Rogers and was not introduced by Defendants at trial.
However, Defendants argue in response that the evidence was cumulative and provide a laundry list of the cumulative nature of evidence introduced by Rogers to support her contention that Defendants knew of and admitted to the addictive and carcinogenic nature of their produce, including: (1) Rogers read to the jury the deposition of the former President of the American Tobacco Company who agreed that smoking is associated with lung cancer and that twenty-five years ago it was associated with lung cancer statistically, (2) Rogers exhibits containing charts and graphs, depicting the cancer causing ingredients of cigarettes and the statistical relationship between smoking and lung cancer, and (3) Rogers expert witness who testified that medical and scientific literature stated that cigarettes are addictive and cause lung cancer.
Fourth, Rogers argues that the evidence concerns facts that were in existence at the time of trial. Specifically, Rogers contends that although LeBow made the statement after the end of the second trial, he based his statement on knowledge from research and findings that were in existence before the trial. Moreover, Rogers asserts that Liggett, by its own admission, and LeBow, by his deposition, knew of the addictive nature of cigarettes before the commencement of the second trial.
However, Defendants argue that it is of no matter that LeBows statement were based upon information and documents that he found and researched prior to the commencement of the second trial. Instead, Defendants contend that the documents upon which Rogers relies for her motion were not in existence at the time of the trial in August 1996.
Next, Rogers argues that she did not fail to exercise due diligence to discover the evidence. Specifically, Rogers contends that Defendants consistently disputed the allegations and evidence of the addictive and carcinogenic nature of cigarettes and that prior to Liggetts admission, LeBows statement, and LeBows deposition after judgment, Rogers had no reason to believe that a deposition of LeBow or any other representative of Defendants would lead to an admission that Defendants knew or acknowledged Rogers allegations that nicotine is addictive and cigarettes cause cancer.
However, Defendants argue that Rogers failed to prove that the evidence was not discoverable before trial by the exercise of due diligence. Specifically, Defendants claim that Rogers bore the burden to demonstrate facts showing that she exercised due diligence to combat the strong presumption that the evidence could not have been discovered before trial. Moreover, Defendants contend that the action commenced in 1987, judgment was entered in 1996, and it is uncontroverted that Rogers took not a single discovery deposition during these nine years. Thus, Rogers failure to demonstrate that the evidence was discoverable before trial by the exercise of due diligence is directly attributable to her failure to take any discovery depositions.
Finally, Rogers argues that the evidence would alter the outcome of the trial because a defense admission that nicotine is addictive and cigarettes cause lung cancer, strengthens Rogers contention that Richard Rogers was addicted to nicotine and cigarette smoking caused Richards lung cancer, and weakens Defendants ability to rebut these contentions.
However, Defendants argue that the jury could have made a general determination that cigarettes cause lung cancer and nicotine is addictive in some people and still have found in favor of the Defendants. As we previously stated, a motion made under subdivision (B) of T.R. 60 is addressed to the equitable discretion of the trial court; the grant or denial of the T.R. 60(B) motion will be disturbed only when that discretion has been abused. Fairfield, 538 N.E.2d at 949-50. In making the decision, the trial court is required to balance the alleged injustice suffered by the party moving for relief against the interests of the winning party and society in general in the finality of litigation. Chelovich, 551 N.E.2d at 892. Abuse of discretion will be found only when the trial courts action is clearly erroneous, that is, against the logic and effect of the facts before it and the inferences which may be draw therefrom. Fairfield, 538 N.E.2d at 950. Therefore, it was the discretion of the trial court to determine if the newly discovered evidence would have altered the outcome of the trial by considering the weight that a reasonable trier of fact would give the new evidence while also evaluating its probable impact on a new trial in light of all the facts and circumstances from the original trial. Therefore, based on the evidence before it, we find that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Rogers Motion for Relief from Judgment based on newly discovered evidence because Rogers failed to satisfy her burden to establish the grounds for T.R. 60(B) relief.
Rogers tendered instruction number 8 was as follows:
The Defendants have raised the issue of incurred risk on the part of Richard Rogers. Incurred risk involves a mental state of venturousness on the part of the actor, and it demands a subjective analysis into whether the actor has actual knowledge and voluntarily accepts the risks. The very essence of incurred risk is the conscious, deliberate and intentional embarkation upon the course of conduct with knowledge of the circumstances. It requires much more than the actors general awareness of a potential for mishap. Incurred risk contemplates acceptance of a specific risk of which the actor has actual knowledge.
The trial courts final instruction number 15, which is based on Pattern Instruction
number 7.04, is as follows:
At the time of the occurrence being considered, there was in full force
and effect in the State of Indiana, a statute which provides in part
(a) The defenses in this section are defenses to actions in strict liability and tort. The burden of proof of any defense raised in a product liability action is on the party raising the defense.
(b) With respect to any product liability action based on strict liability in tort:
(1) It is a defense that the user or consumer bringing the action knew of the defect and was aware of the danger and nevertheless proceeded unreasonably to make use of the product and was injured by it.
The trial courts final instruction number 30, which is based on Pattern Instruction
number 5.43, is as follows:
The Defendants have asserted the defense of incurred risk with respect to plaintiffs
negligence claims. When a person knows of a danger, understands the risk
involved, and voluntarily exposes himself to such danger, that person is said to
have incurred the risk of injury.
In determining whether Richard Rogers incurred the risk, you may consider his experience and understanding, whether he had reasonable opportunity to abandon his course of action, and whether a person of ordinary prudence, under the circumstances, would have refused to continue and would have abandoned the course of action.
If you find that Richard Rogers conduct in this case he incurred the risk of the alleged lung cancer and subsequent death, then such conduct would constitute fault to be assessed against the plaintiff.
The trial courts final instruction number 16, which was based on Pattern Instructions
numbers 5.43, 6.15, and 7.04, is as follows:
If you find by a preponderance of the evidence that Richard Rogers knew
of the alleged defect in the cigarettes at issue and was aware of
the danger, but nevertheless unreasonably proceeded to make use of the cigarettes and
was injured thereby, then you may find for the defendants and against plaintiff
on her strict liability claims even if you find that the cigarettes were
defective and unreasonably dangerous in some respect.
In determining whether Richard Rogers knew of the alleged defects and was aware of the dangers in smoking defendants cigarettes, you may consider the experience and understanding of Richard Rogers and whether Richard Rogers could have quit smoking and thereby avoided his injuries.
Therefore, if you find that Richard Rogers incurred the risk of his injuries you may find for the defendants and against the plaintiff on her strict liability claim.
Rogers contends that the trial court abused its discretion by refusing two of
her tendered jury instructions. The giving of jury instructions is a matter
within the sound discretion of the trial court, and we review the court's
refusal to give a tendered instruction for an abuse of that discretion.
Elmer Buchta Trucking, Inc. v. Stanley, 713 N.E.2d 925, 930 (Ind. Ct. App.
1999). Generally, we will reverse a trial court for failure to give
a tendered instruction if: 1) the instruction is a correct statement of the
law; 2) it is supported by the evidence; 3) it does not repeat
material adequately covered by other instructions; and 4) the substantial rights of the
tendering party would be prejudiced by failure to give it. Id.
Rogers claims that her tendered instruction number 8 is an accurate statement of the law. With respect to tendered instruction number 8, Rogers relies on our decision in Power v. Brodie, 460 N.E.2d 1241 (Ind. Ct. App. 1984). Rogers contends that her tendered instruction number 8, which tracks the language of the Power decision, set forth the principles for the defense of incurred risk that we enunciated in the Power case:
. . . [incurred risk] involves a mental state of venturousness on the part of the actor, and demands a subjective analysis into the actor's actual knowledge and voluntary acceptance of the risk. By definition ... the very essence of incurred risk is the conscious, deliberate and intentional embarkation upon a course of conduct with knowledge of the circumstances. It requires much more than the general awareness of a potential for mishap. Incurred risk contemplates acceptance of a specific risk of which the plaintiff has actual knowledge. While the failure to recognize a danger or risk readily discernible to the reasonable and prudent man under like or similar circumstances may constitute contributory negligence, it cannot be said to constitute incurred risk because it should never be considered a voluntary incurrence of a known risk.
Id. at 1243. Further, Rogers argues that her tendered instruction number 8
is supported by the evidence because: (1) Richards continued smoking was a result
of his compulsion to sustain an addiction to nicotine and did not involve
a spirit of venturousness, (2) there was evidence that Richard was addicted to
smoking and did not have a true choice or control over his continued
smoking, (3) there was evidence that Richards continued smoking was not a conscious,
deliberate, and intentional embarkation upon the course of conduct with knowledge of the
circumstances, and (4) Richard became addicted to cigarette smoking before he had the
knowledge and understanding of the specific risk that smoking could become an addiction,
rather than merely habit forming, and could cause cancer.
Next, Rogers claims that the substance of tendered instruction number 8 was not covered by other instructions. Specifically, Rogers argues that final instructions number 15 and 16 did not explain the mental state required for a finding of incurred risk and failed to advise the jury that incurred risk involves knowledge and acceptance of a specific risk and a voluntarily exposure to that risk, rather than a general awareness of a potential for harm. Essentially, Rogers asserts that because Richard testified regarding his uncertainty about the health hazards of smoking and his awareness of the tobacco industrys challenge to the Surgeon Generals scientific evidence, and because of Defendants evidence that nicotine is not addictive and smoking has not been proven to cause cancer, the final instructions did not sufficiently explain the necessity for Richards specific awareness of the risk of smoking. Further, Rogers contends that the final instructions failed to focus on the distinction drawn in our previous decision in this case between knowledge of potential health risks associated with smoking and knowledge of the specific risks of addiction with respect to the defense of incurred risk. Therefore, Rogers argues that the final instructions failed to address the fact that in order for Richard to have incurred the risk of smoking cigarettes, he must have known and voluntarily accepted the specific risks of smoking rather than knowing and having a general awareness of the potential health risks of smoking.
Rogers also claims that her tendered instruction number 7 is an accurate statement of the law. With respect to tendered instruction number 7, Rogers relies for her argument on our supreme courts decision in Get-N-Go, Inc. v. Markins, 544 N.E.2d 484 (Ind. 1989). Rogers contends that her tendered instruction number 7 set forth the principle enunciated by our supreme court in the Get-N-Go case that actions must be wholly voluntary in order to establish a successful defense of incurred risk:
When incurred risk is at issue, the question often arises whether the plaintiff could or should have retreated once the danger and risk became apparent. We have held that even when a danger is known and appreciated, continued exposure does not amount to incurring its risk when there is no reasonable opportunity to escape from it or the exposure is a result of influence, circumstances, or surroundings which are a real inducement to continue despite the danger.
Id. at 487. In that case, our supreme court considered whether the
plaintiff had incurred the risk of injury by continuing to walk across the
defendants icy parking lot. Id. at 485. The plaintiff was an
elderly diabetic woman who needed to buy food to take with her medication
for her illness. Id. The plaintiff took several steps into the
parking lot before realizing that she was surrounded by ice, at which point
she was faced with the option of turning back or continuing toward the
store, both of which involved walking on the dangerous ice. Id.
The plaintiff continued toward the store, slipped on the ice, and injured her
knee. Id. at 486. The Court recognized that the plaintiff was
trapped by the ice and had no choice but to expose herself to
the danger of slipping on the ice. Id. at 487. The
Court further reasoned that the plaintiff was close to the store and in
dire need of food, thus, the Court found that her actions were not
wholly voluntary, stating that:
[S]he was on the more dangerous areas of Get-N-Gos parking lot before she became aware of [the ice]. At that point, she made a decision to continue since she was so close to the store and had a real need for food . . . As in Hollowell and Ridgway, this was a real inducement for her to continue toward the store and thus relieved her of any responsibility for her injuries that she may have sustained by continued exposure to the dangerously icy parking lot since her actions were not wholly voluntary.
Id. at 488 (citations omitted). Thus, Rogers argues that the trial court
erred in failing to give her tendered instruction number 7, which contained wholly
voluntary language, because the principle that actions must be wholly voluntary in order
to constitute incurred risk is well established in Indiana law.
On the other hand, Defendants argue that the trial court committed no error by refusing to give Rogers tendered instructions number 7 and 8 and by not including the wholly voluntary language in the final instructions for the defense of incurred risk. Specifically, Defendants contend that Rogers misapplies and misstates Indiana law regarding the defense of incurred risk.
Defendants argue that the trial court in Get-N-Go did not use the words wholly voluntary to instruct the jury on the defense of incurred risk. Moreover, Defendants contend that the supreme court, in reviewing that case, determined that the plaintiffs actions were not wholly voluntary in the context of an individual voluntarily choosing to expose oneself to danger in the face of no alternative but to do so. Put more simply, the plaintiff in Get-N-Go knew and was aware of the danger but had no choice but to incur the risk of the danger. Therefore, Defendants assert that it is clear from the Courts reasoning in Get-N-Go that it used the wholly voluntary language to emphasize the fact that the plaintiffs actions were not wholly voluntary because she had no physically safe means of avoiding the danger because both alternatives put her in harms way. Defendants reiterate their argument by distinguishing between personal circumstances that make a particular course of conduct compelling, and external forces that effectively eliminate all safe alternatives, thereby negating the element of voluntariness and warranting a finding that a plaintiff did not incur the risk at issue.
Richard Rogers had the safe alternative of quitting smoking in the 1960s when he was aware of the potential dangers of smoking including the risk of lung cancer and addiction. Moreover, we agree that Rogers misapplies the law by relying on Get-N-Go for the proposition that an instruction on the defense of incurred risk in this case must include wholly voluntary language. Furthermore, Richard Rogers action of continuing to smoke was not an external force that effectively eliminated all other safe alternatives as in Get-N-Go, but instead, his actions were personal circumstances that made his conduct of continuing to smoke more compelling.
Rogers reiterates her arguments she made in support of her contention that the trial court erred in failing to give her tendered instructions number 7 and 8 to argue that the trial court also erred in giving its final instructions number 15, 16, and 30. Specifically, Rogers argues that final instructions number 15, 16, and 30: (1) fail to incorporate the principle from Get-N-Go and Clark, that incurred risk contemplates the acceptance of a specific risk rather than a general awareness of potential for mishap, (2) fail to reference the requirement of a mental state of venturousness involving a conscious, deliberate, and intentional course of conduct with knowledge of the circumstances, and (3) make no reference to whether Richards conduct was wholly voluntary.
However, we find that the trial court properly instructed the jury on the defense of incurred risk because the instructions properly informed the jury of the defense of incurred risk by using Pattern Jury Instructions for incurred risk with respect to negligence and strict liability in tort. Moreover, the entirety of the final instructions properly instructed the jury that in order for Richard to have incurred the risk of smoking, Richard must have known of the dangers of smoking, understood the risk involved, and voluntarily exposed himself to this known risk. Further, the instructions as a whole informed the jury that it was free to consider Richards inability to quit smoking.
Finally, Rogers argues that the trial court erred by giving final instruction number 12 in describing those circumstances in which a product is not defective under the law of strict liability. The relevant portion of the trial courts final instruction number 12 on the meaning of a defective product is as follows:
At the time of the occurrence being considered, there was in full force and effect in the State of Indiana a statute that provides as follows:
(R. 2051-52). Specifically, Rogers contends that the trial court erred by including
subpart (c) and (d) because the instruction set forth an issue not supported
by the evidence. Rogers further argues that including subpart (c) was improper
because there was no evidence that the use of the defendants cigarettes in
this case was not reasonably expectable, but instead, the evidence indicated that Richard
used the defendants cigarettes as they were intended to be used. Further,
Rogers contends that including subpart (d) of final instruction number 12 was also
improper because there was no evidence that the defendants cigarettes were incapable of
being made safe for their reasonably expectable use when manufactured, sold, handled, and
Defendants counter Rogers argument by claiming that subpart (c) and (d) are in fact supported by the evidence. We agree. With respect to subpart (c), there was evidence permitting the jury to decide whether Defendants cigarettes were safe for reasonably expectable handling and consumption. Specifically, the jury heard evidence that despite Richards awareness of the risk of addiction and lung cancer, he chose to continue smoking. Moreover, it could be inferred that Richards two to three pack a day smoking conduct, in the face of known serious health risks, was not reasonably expectable consumption. With respect to subpart (d), there was evidence that Defendants cigarettes conformed to the generally recognized state of the art. Therefore, the trial court properly gave final instruction number 12 regarding the definition of a defective product.
Based upon the trial courts finding, we find that the trial court properly excluded Dunns deposition testimony on the basis that the documents he relied upon in his deposition merely contain theories and hypotheses, and there is no basis for concluding that Dunns theories or hypotheses were adopted or attributed to Philip Morris or any other defendant. Thus, Dunns deposition testimony cannot provide the requisite evidentiary foundation to support the admissibility of this designated deposition testimony as an admission of Defendants.
Different people smoke for different reasons. But the primary reason is to
deliver nicotine into their bodies. Nicotine is an alkaloid derived from the
tobacco plant. It is a physiologically active, nitrogen containing substance. Similar
organic chemicals include nicotine, quinine, cocaine, atropine and morphine. While each of
these substances can be used to affect human physiology, nicotine has a particularly
broad range of influence.
RESPONSE: Philip Morris admits that the original document, prepared in 1992 by
a non-scientist employee at Philip Morris, included essentially the same language which itself
was quoted or paraphrased from publicly available sources.
REQUEST No. 4: The information in the document was presented to and/or
was made available to management employees of defendant Philip Morris Incorporated.
RESPONSE: Philip Morris objects to this request on the grounds that it
is vague, ambiguous, unlimited as to time, and contains undefined terms. Subject
to, and without waiving its objections, Philip Morris admits that the original document
was found in the files of certain Philip Morris management level employees.
Defendants objected to allowing the jury see or hear the admissions, and the court sustained the objection for lack of foundation. The trial court reasoned that although the document was drafted by a Philip Morris employee and found in Philip Morris management files, the foundation for admitting the documents was lacking because Rogers could not identify with particularity the Philip Morris employee who wrote the document. Moreover, the trial court excluded the admissions because Rogers failed to lay a sufficient foundation showing that the unidentified person who wrote the document had the expertise or authority to speak on behalf of Philip Morris in order for the statement to be an admission of Philip Morris.
As we previously stated, in determining admissibility of evidence, we will only consider that evidence in favor of the trial courts ruling. Reaves, 586 N.E.2d at 857. Therefore, because there is sufficient evidence to support the trial courts decision to exclude the requests for admission, we find that the trial court properly excluded the documents.
2. This Courts denial of Plaintiffs Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on
April 26, 1994 also held, in the absence of cross-motions for summary judgment,
that . . . Plaintiff has failed to show she is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.
3. The abnormally dangerous activity doctrine has no application as an independent
foundation of liability, to the issues, facts and applicable law of this cause
"Amendments to the pleadings are to be liberally allowed in order that all issues involved in a lawsuit are presented to the jury." Fleming v. International Pizza Supply Corp., 707 N.E.2d 1033, 1036 (Ind. Ct. App. 1999). However, "[t]he trial court has broad discretion in granting or denying amendments to the pleadings and we will reverse only upon a showing of abuse of discretion." Id.; See also, Freedom Express, Inc. v. Merchandise Warehouse Co., Inc., 647 N.E.2d 648 (Ind. Ct. App. 1995). "An abuse of discretion is an erroneous conclusion and judgment, clearly against the logic and effect of the facts and circumstances before the court or the reasonable deductions to be drawn therefrom." Id. at 653.
Trial Rule 15(A) provides that a complaint may be amended by leave of the trial court and that the trial court should grant such leave "when justice so requires." T.R. 15(A). In Palacios v. Kline, 566 N.E.2d 573 (Ind. Ct. App. 1991), this court articulated several factors to which a trial court should look in determining whether justice requires the leave to be granted. Those factors include undue delay, bad faith, or dilatory motive on the part of the movant and undue prejudice to the opposing party. Id. at 575. The trial court noted that Rogers moved to amend her complaint over seven years after her original complaint and only 90 days before trial was to commence. It was reasonable to assume that such delay is undue. The court further noted that the abnormally dangerous activity doctrine has no application as an independent foundation of liability in this case. Given the deference we must give to the trial courts decision, we cannot say that there was an abuse of discretion.