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Partlow v. Gray

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

June 15, 2017

LENORA PARTLOW, ADMINISTRATIX OF THE ESTATE OF CALVIN WILSON, JR., Appellee
v.
KAHLILE GRAY, Appellant

         Appeal from the Judgment Entered July 12, 2016 In the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Civil Division at No.: June Term, 2013, No. 0678

          BEFORE: DUBOW, J., SOLANO, J., and FORD ELLIOTT, P.J.E.

          OPINION

          DUBOW, J.

         Kahlile Gray ("Appellant") appeals from the July 12, 2016 Judgment entered by the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas following a jury trial. We affirm.

         The relevant facts, as gleaned from the trial court's September 15, 2016 Opinion and the certified record, are as follows. On April 4, 2013, Decedent, Calvin Wilson, Jr., and his friend had been riding their motorcycles throughout Philadelphia. Decedent had recorded their ride with a Go Pro video camera, which Decedent mounted on his motorcycle, and the recording showed, inter alia, that in the half-mile before the accident, Decedent had performed three wheelies. Appellant was driving in the opposite direction in a Dodge Durango, and both lanes of travel had green lights. Decedent was not speeding.

         Appellant attempted to make a left-hand turn through Decedent's lane of travel. Appellant hit Decedent's motorcycle and killed Decedent. A police officer observed Appellant's bloodshot and watery eyes after the accident, as well as Appellant's lethargic behavior. Appellant denied consuming alcohol at any point that day. Two hours after the accident, Appellant's blood alcohol content ("BAC") was 0.073. Appellee's expert opined that Appellant's BAC two hours after the accident indicated his BAC was .104% at the time of the accident.

         Lenora Partlow, the Administratrix of the Estate of Calvin Wilson, Jr. ("Appellee"), filed a Writ of Summons on June 15, 2013, and a Complaint on January 7, 2014, asserting a survival action and a wrongful death action.

         The trial court heard several Motions in Limine prior to trial regarding, inter alia, the admissibility of the Go Pro video recording, the evidence of Appellant's alcohol consumption and intoxication, and expert testimony based on the evidence of Appellant's alcohol consumption and intoxication. The trial court admitted evidence of Appellant's alcohol consumption and intoxication, as well as limited portions of the Go Pro video recording.

         Following a jury trial from February 5, 2016 to February 11, 2016, at which Appellant conceded liability but claimed that Decedent had been comparatively negligent, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Appellee for $3.1 million.[1] The jury awarded $1, 850, 000 for net loss earning capacity for the survival action and $1, 250, 000 for the wrongful death action.

         Appellant filed Post-Trial Motions, which the trial court denied on July 12, 2016. The same day, the trial court entered Judgment in favor of Appellee for $3.1 million.

         Appellant filed a timely Notice of Appeal. Both Appellant and the trial court complied with Pa.R.A.P. 1925.

Appellant presents the following four issues for our review:
[1.] Whether the [t]rial [court] abused its discretion in allowing the admission of alleged intoxication when it was clearly not relevant and, to the extent it was relevant on the negligence issues, its probative value was far outweighed by the prejudice to [Appellant], especially when the [c]ourt initially denied [Appellant's] Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on the punitive damages claim but later granted [Appellant's] Motion for Compulsory Nonsuit on the issue of punitive damages?
[2.] Whether the [t]rial [c]ourt abused its discretion in allowing evidence of alleged intoxication and/or alcohol use by [Appellant], including but not limited to testimony from [Appellee's] toxicology expert witness, when there ...

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