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Horsey v. Mack Trucks Inc.

argued: June 8, 1989.

JAMES A. HORSEY, JR. AND TINA JO HORSEY, HIS WIFE, APPELLANTS
v.
MACK TRUCKS, INC. AND CUNNINGHAM ENTERPRISES CORPORATION AND TRANSCRAFT CORPORATION APPELLEES



On Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, D.C. No. 86-2490.

Becker, Stapleton and Garth, Circuit Judges.

Author: Garth

Opinion OF THE COURT

GARTH, Circuit Judge:

Plaintiffs/appellants James and Tina Horsey ("Horsey") appeal from the district court's May 26, 1988 judgment entered pursuant to a jury verdict in favor of defendants/appellees Mack Trucks, Inc. ("Mack") and Transcraft Corporation ("Transcraft"). Horsey's motion for a new trial was denied on December 5, 1988. Horsey's notice of appeal was filed on December 27, 1988. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. ยง 1291. We affirm.

I.

Horsey was employed by Ole Hansen & Sons, Inc., as a wharf and dock builder at a Cape May-Lewes Ferry construction site. On October 20, 1983, while unloading bundles of steel sheets from a flat bed tractor trailer, Horsey suffered a serious injury to his right hand and wrist. The injury occurred when the tractor and trailer unexpectedly backed-up and crushed Horsey's right hand between the steel sheets he was unloading and the rear most portion of the rig. The tractor was manufactured by Mack and the trailer by Transcraft.

Horsey filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey against Mack and Transcraft on June 25, 1986. His basic contention was that because the tractor had not been equipped with a back-up warning alarm (a beeper) that would have alerted him when the tractor went into reverse, Horsey was injured. On May 25, 1988, after an eight day trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Mack and Transcraft.

Thereafter, Horsey filed a Rule 59 motion for a new trial.*fn1 Horsey argued that he was entitled to a new trial because (1) the district court failed to ask prospective jurors certain voir dire questions pertaining to their employment in, or relating to, the insurance industry; (2) the district court improperly excluded evidence of other accidents involving Mack trucks; (3) the district court barred Horsey from questioning defendants' expert witness about certain OSHA regulations; (4) the district court failed to allow into evidence certain photographs of Horsey's injured hand; (5) the district court refused to allow into evidence an engineering diagram of a back up bell; and (6) the district court erred in its jury instructions. Horsey's motion for a new trial was denied on December 5, 1988. Horsey appealed.

II.

In his brief on appeal, Horsey argued before us essentially the same points of error that he had presented to the district court in his motion for a new trial. We have considered each of Horsey's contentions involving claimed erroneous jury instructions and trial errors and, with one exception, have concluded that no detailed discussion is warranted. We are satisfied that the district court neither abused its discretion nor erred in its rulings. The one claimed error that we feel obliged to discuss is Horsey's contention that the district court erred in its voir dire of jurors when it refused to question prospective jurors about their relationship to the insurance industry.

III.

Horsey argues that the district court committed reversible error when it refused to ask prospective jurors the following questions on voir dire:

13. Are any of you or members of your immediate families employed by a company engaged in the casualty or liability insurance business?

14. Are any of you or members of your immediate families stockholders in any company engaged in the casualty or ...


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