FROM THE CRAIGHEAD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, WESTERN DISTRICT
[NO. 16JCV-16-344] HONORABLE PAMELA HONEYCUTT, JUDGE
Offices of Henry Law Firm, PLC, by: Megan Henry, for
Phelps Puyear Mayfield & McNeil, P.A., by: Mark Mayfield
and Chuck Gschwend, for appellee.
F. VIRDEN, JUDGE.
Baker appeals the Craighead County Circuit Court jury's
decision that neither party was negligent in the auto
collision between herself and Lisa Trevathan. We affirm.
April 21, 2015, Baker was driving in Jonesboro west on
Phillips Drive through the intersection when she and
Trevathan, who was traveling north on Caraway Lane, collided.
Baker was taken by ambulance to the Northeast Arkansas
Baptist Memorial Hospital emergency room where she was
treated by Dr. William Baker, who is not related to her.
Baker's car was disabled in the accident, and it was
towed by Northeast Arkansas Towing. Her car was later
released and stored at a lot in Weiner.
16, 2016, Baker filed a complaint in which she alleged that
Trevathan ran the red light and struck her car, causing
physical injuries and damage to her car. Baker alleged $2500
in damages to her car, loss-of-use damages amounting to $200,
and towing and storage expenses of $2, 294.63. Trevathan
filed an answer on July 1, 2016, denying fault and alleging
that Baker was at fault.
November 3, 2016, Baker filed a motion in limine to exclude,
among other things, any evidence regarding prescription
medication she may be taking or had taken in the past. Baker
filed a second motion in limine in which she argued that
evidence relating to her prescription medication was
immaterial to this lawsuit because "there is no proof as
to any causal connection between medications and her driving
ability at the time of the collision." Trevathan
responded that evidence regarding recently filled
prescriptions should be admitted because, "Plaintiff has
asserted that she is required to refill all of her
medications as an excuse of why she has bought months of
medications, but supposedly has not taken them, which is
relevant." Trevathan listed Baker's prescription
medications and asserted that "each of these medications
were in use at the time of the mishap."
amended complaint filed November 14, 2016, Baker alleged that
she incurred $15, 983.75 in ambulance, hospital, and doctor
fees. In her second amended complaint, Baker reported $17,
436.75 in medical bills. She also claimed $2500 for property
damage and costs.
court held a hearing on the motions in limine. Baker argued
that the prescription-medication testimony and evidence was
irrelevant because there was no evidence that she had been
impaired while driving. Baker asserted that evidence of any
medications she obtained after the accident was irrelevant,
and evidence of medication that she had possessed three weeks
before the accident did not pertain to her driving ability on
the day of the accident. Trevathan responded that she should
be allowed to introduce prescription-medication evidence
because it showed Baker's inattentive condition at the
time of the accident, which caused her to fail to observe the
circuit court ruled that evidence regarding Baker's
prescription medication that had been filled around the time
of the accident was admissible because it was relevant to her
state of mind, her reflexes, and her driving ability. The
court excluded any evidence relating to prescriptions that
had not been filled or that were "remote in time."
trial was held on December 5, 2016. Jason Edison, a paramedic
called to the scene of the accident, testified that in his
written report he had noted that Baker had been alert and
oriented and that she had complained of neck and back pain
and shortness of breath. Edison recounted that there had been
no change in Baker's mental status during the twenty-one
minutes Edison attended to her, and he did not recall that
she had appeared to be under the influence of any substance.
Baker offered the following relevant testimony: When he
examined Baker after the accident, he had not noticed any
slurred speech or any neurological deficit, and he did not
remember thinking that she was under the influence of drugs
or alcohol. He said that it is normal to be upset after a
traumatic event, and if a patient is unable to recall his or
her medications, a staff member calls the patient's
pharmacy to get his or her current prescriptions. He further
said that Baker's prescribed medications-Neurontin,
Suboxone, Ativan, Klonopin and Soma-can cause drowsiness, and
a combination of any of them "could really make you
sleepy." The medical records indicate that the treating
nurse had documented that Baker had been adamant that she had
not taken ...