The New Jersey court’s opinion yesterday in Verni v. Harry M. Stevens ordered a new trial because of the unfairly prejudicial evidence introduced at trial. (Laura Mansnerus, “Court Overturns Jury Award Against Stadium Concessionaire”, NY Times, Aug. 4; Kibret Markos, “Paralyzed Cliffside girl may have to go through new trial”, NorthJersey.com, Aug. 4).
Plaintiffs sought to blame a drunk-driving accident several hours after a Giants game on stadium beer vendors, a feat eased when the drunk driver, Daniel Lanzano, settled with plaintiffs and changed his testimony to be consistent with their theory of the case. Lanzano drank at two go-go bars after the game. The court also noted the failure of the jury to be instructed to consider the relative liability of other settling parties that the plaintiffs had sued in a shotgun complaint, including the NFL, the Giants, Toyota, and Michael Holder, who committed the sin of drinking with Lanzano that day. We had provided extensive coverage from the beginnings of the suit: Oct. 10, 2003; Jan. 21, 2005; a must-read Feb. 2, 2005 post; Jun. 6.
Update: another aspect of the appellate court opinion is that it recognized corporate boundaries. The trial court sought to hold Aramark liable for alleged negligence of its subsidiaries.