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Florida First DCA affirms defense verdict in motor vehicle negligence case, finds that trial court properly admitted evidence of pedestrian plaintiff’s intoxication

On December 16, 2020, in Balogh v. ABC Liquors, et al., No. 1D19-2121, the Florida First DCA affirmed a jury verdict and judgment in favor of the defendant in a motor vehicle negligence case. The specific issue on appeal was whether the trial court erred in allowing the defendant to introduce evidence that the plaintiff was intoxicated at the time of the accident.  The plaintiff was a pedestrian who was struck by a truck driven by an employee of the defendant.  The defendant introduced expert testimony that the plaintiff’s blood alcohol content at the time of the accident was approximately 0.18 and that this could have compromised his ability to judge speed and distance, perception of danger, cognition, general fine motor skills, and reaction times.  The plaintiff argued that the evidence of his intoxication constituted impermissible inference stacking, citing Inmon v. Convergence Emp. Leasing III, Inc., 243 So. 3d 1046 (Fla. 1st DCA 2018). However, the First DCA distinguished Inmon, noting that it was a worker’s compensation case concerning whether the employee’s injury was primarily occasioned by his intoxication, whereas in the instant case the defendant was only required to prove that alcohol consumption was a contributing factor in a comparative negligence analysis.