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Blevins v. Platt

August 5, 2020

Plaintiffs, Dana Blevins and Garrett Brackins filed suit against Defendant, Jacob Piatt alleging damages arising from a motor vehicle collision.  Defendant filed a motion to strike allegations in Plaintiffs’ Complaint in which Plaintiffs alleged their vehicle was rendered a “total loss”.  Defendant also moved to strike allegations in the Complaint related to Plaintiffs use of seatbelts and Defendant’s criminal conviction for possession of marijuana and failure to obey a traffic control device arising out of the occurrence. Defendant argued that such allegations were prejudicial and scandalous.

The Court granted Defendant’s motion to strike allegation that the vehicle was a total loss.  The Court reasoned that property damages were not at issue in the litigation.  Furthermore, the determination of whether a vehicle is a “total loss” is not related to the force of impact, but rather an economic determination as to whether the cost of repairs exceeds the vehicle’s fair market value.  Therefore, the allegations that the vehicle was a “total loss” were irrelevant to the action and stricken.

The Court denied the motion to strike allegations related to Plaintiffs’ seatbelt use.  The Court explained that, while references to seat-belts are not permitted at trial, the allegations in the Complaint did not warrant being stricken because they were not scandalous or prejudicial.   

The Court denied the motion to strike allegations related to Defendant’s criminal conviction arising from the occurrence.  The Court explained that the mere fact that the conviction itself may not be admissible at trial does not mean that the allegations should be stricken.  Because the facts underlying the conviction are relevant to the civil action, the Court declined to strike the allegations.  The Court emphasized that the mere fact that an allegation may not be admissible at trial is not grounds for striking the allegations from the complaint.