Criticism of Expert Harmless

The court affirmed a judgment for the plaintiff in a car wreck case over complaints of improper jury arguments. Nguyen crashed her car into Myers car, and Myers sued. Nguyen did not contest liability at trial, but disputed the amount Myers’s claimed damages. The parties agreed in limine that Myers be precluded from mentioning Nguyen’s liability insurance. At trial, one of Myers’s chiropractors testified that Nguyen’s expert, Dr. Timberlake, was “hired by insurance companies to make judgment on patients he’s never seen before . . . .” Nguyen objected to this testimony as an interjection of insurance, which was overruled, and moved for a mistrial, which was denied. Later in closing, Myers’s counsel stated that Timberlake was “paid by them” and was “their hired gun.” The jury awarded Myers his requested damages and Nguyen filed a motion for new trial based on the court’s denial of mistrial, which was not granted.

On appeal, the court held that any error caused by the interjection of insurance did not rise to the level of “harmful error,” and the testimony was not an “incurable statement,” because the jury’s verdict could not have turned on the one isolated mention of insurance. Furthermore, Nguyen failed to preserve her arguments that Myers’s counsel’s statements were incurable jury arguments because she failed to object to them, request a limiting instruction, or assert that argument in her motion for new trial.

Nguyen v. Myers, No. 05-11-01510-CV