may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Kevin J. Woodall,
Assunta Bagnoli, et al.,
Filed March 30, 1999
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 9615730
Scott P. Drawe, Stich, Angell, Kreidler, Brownson & Ballou, P.A., Suite 120-Crossings, 250 Second Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55401; and
Denise Reuter, Post Office Box 64885, St. Paul, MN 55164-0885 (for respondents)
Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Willis, Judge.
Appellant Kevin J. Woodall challenges the district court's denial of a posttrial motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) or, in the alternative, a new trial on the ground that the jury's verdict was contrary to the evidence. We affirm.
This case involves a two-vehicle accident on Tenth Street in downtown Minneapolis approximately 250 feet east of a stoplight at LaSalle Avenue. Tenth Street is a one-way eastbound street with three main traffic lanes, plus metered parking lanes on the north and south sides of the street. Respondent Assunta Bagnoli was driving her automobile south across Tenth Street, from a parking lot on the north side of Tenth towards a parking lot on the south side of the street. Woodall, driving his motorcycle eastbound on Tenth Street, hit the rear right side panel of Bagnoli's automobile.
Woodall brought a negligence action against Bagnoli for injuries sustained. Bagnoli testified at trial that as she exited the north parking lot she stopped and looked to the right for oncoming traffic. Seeing that traffic was stopped at LaSalle at a red light, she proceeded south across the three main traffic lanes into the entrance of the parking lot. Woodall testified that he switched lanes after the light turned green and first saw the automobile halfway in the road and halfway into the entrance of the parking lot. A witness testified that as traffic proceeded through the intersection, the motorcycle pulled into the far right parking lane and accelerated slightly. Officer Daniel Tyra, a specialist in accident investigation, testified that in his opinion there was no improper driving on the part of the motorcycle, but that the driver of the automobile failed to yield to oncoming traffic.
The jury returned a verdict finding no negligence on the part of Bagnoli. They instead found that the sole cause of the collision was negligence on the part of Woodall. Woodall appeals from the trial court's denial of his motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict or, in the alternative, a new trial.
A party can obtain a new trial where the verdict is not justified by the evidence. Minn. R. Civ. P. 59.01(g). The decision to grant a new trial lies within the sound discretion of the trial court and will not be disturbed absent a clear abuse of that discretion. Halla Nursery, Inc. v. Baumann-Furrie & Co., 454 N.W.2d 905, 910 (Minn. 1990). On appeal from a denial of a motion for a new trial, the verdict must stand unless it is manifestly and palpably contrary to the evidence, viewed in a light most favorable to the verdict. ZumBerge v. Northern States Power Co., 481 N.W.2d 103, 110 (Minn. App. 1992), review denied (Minn. Apr. 29, 1992).
At trial, the jury was confronted with conflicting evidence as to which party was negligent. Officer Tyra, the witness, and Woodall himself were all of the opinion that Bagnoli, not Woodall, was at fault for failing to yield the right of way. On the other hand, Bagnoli testified that she had checked for traffic on Tenth Street before crossing the street, and that she was braking out of a concern for pedestrians at the time of the collision. Bagnoli alleged that Woodall failed to keep a reasonable lookout when switching lanes to the parking lane. Factual issues in conflict included whether Woodall was initially traveling in the center or right traffic lane, whether there were cars parked at meters in the south parking lane, and whether the traffic light had changed to green before Bagnoli began to cross Tenth Street.
Resolution of conflicting testimony is the function of the jury. Lane by Lane v. Skyline Family Med. Ctr., 363 N.W.2d 318, 324-25 (Minn. App. 1985). On review this court assumes the jury disbelieved any testimony in conflict with the result it reached. State v. Merrill, 274 N.W.2d 99, 111 (Minn.1978). Accordingly, we assume the jury believed that Bagnoli adequately checked for oncoming traffic before crossing Tenth Street, but that Woodall was passing traffic in the parking lane without keeping a reasonable lookout. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, the verdict is not manifestly and palpably contrary to the evidence. Accordingly, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion for a new trial. We need not review the denial of JNOV, since the standard for granting a new trial is not as demanding as the standard for JNOV. See Lamb v. Jordan, 333 N.W.2d 852, 856 (Minn. 1983) (noting difference in standards).