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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court grants transfer to Outback Steakhouse case

The Muncie Star-Press reports today that:

The Indiana Supreme Court decided this week to review a $39-million civil judgment awarded to a Muncie couple who sued Outback Steakhouse.

A Delaware Circuit Court 1 jury in June 2003 found in favor of David and Lisa Markley, who were severely injured when their motorcycle was struck by a drunken motorist on July 21, 1997.

The couple alleged the driver, William Whitaker of Albany, became intoxicated at the grand opening party at Outback's Muncie restaurant. Witnesses said alcoholic beverages were served free of charge or for as little as a dime each.

The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the $39-million judgment last July. * * *

In earlier attempts to have the jury's rulings set aside, the restaurant's attorneys focused on the testimony of a former Outback waitress, Patrice Roysdon.

The waitress had testified in a 2001 deposition that Whitaker "appeared fine" at the restaurant's grand opening. At the trial two years later, however, Roysdon said her earlier statements had been false, and that Whitaker was indeed drunk.

Outback's attorneys maintained in their most recent appeal that the legal team for the Markleys -- Muncie lawyers Michael J. Alexander and Donald McClellan -- should have informed them of Roysdon's intention to change her story, revealed in an interview with the Muncie attorneys a day before she testified.

Here is the now vacated Court of Appeals 21-page decision in Outback Steakhouse of Florida, Inc., et al v. David D. & Lisa K. Markley (7/25/05), which concluded:
The Markleys’ counsel’s violation of T.R. 26 in failing to disclose witness Roysdon would change her testimony, while misconduct, does not require reversal because Outback chose to cross-examine Roysdon; the trial court’s refusal to give Outback’s tendered instruction on non-party fault and its limitation of Outback’s impeachment of witness McLaren were not abuses of its discretion; and the jury’s damage award against Outback was supported by the evidence. We must accordingly affirm.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 25, 2006 11:38 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions