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Taylor v. Southern Pacific Transportation Co.

130 Ariz. 516 (1981)

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Taylor v. Southern Pacific Transportation Co.

Arizona Supreme Court

130 Ariz. 516 (1981)

Facts

Dennis Taylor (plaintiff) was driving his car with his wife, Kathy, as a passenger, when Taylor’s car collided with a train at a railroad crossing. Kathy died as a result of the accident. At the time of the crash, Taylor and Kathy had been married for approximately two months. Taylor sued Southern Pacific Transportation Company (defendant), which owned the train, and the driver of the train, alleging wrongful death. Before trial, Taylor had remarried. Taylor sought damages related to the loss of his wife, including loss of homemaking services and loss of the income that Kathy would have been expected to contribute to the marriage. Prior to trial, Taylor requested that the trial court prohibit any mention of or reference to Taylor’s remarriage. The trial court granted Taylor’s motion in limine. However, Southern Pacific’s attorney made two references to Taylor’s remarriage during the cross-examination of Taylor, asking whether Taylor had been implying that Taylor had gone without homemaking services since Kathy’s death and asking Taylor how many times Taylor had been married. After these references, Taylor requested that the trial court declare a mistrial, and the trial court deferred ruling until the end of the trial. The jury returned a verdict for Taylor of $7,000 in compensatory damages and $200 in punitive damages. The trial court then determined that Southern Pacific’s attorney had violated the court’s pretrial order and granted the request for a mistrial. Southern Pacific appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Cameron, J.)

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