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Nursing Home Cases: Jury Instructions

Atkinson v. Manor Care Health Servs. 2006 Iowa App. LEXIS 744 (Iowa Ct. App. 2006). After instructing the jury, the court realized that no instruction was given on proximate cause. Counsel for both parties consented to the instruction. The court then included it in the written charge delivered to the jury, but it was not read with the other charges. The jury then returned a defense verdict finding that Manor Care was negligence in its care, but that the negligence was not the proximate cause of Plaintiff’s injuries. Plaintiff filed a motion for new trial contending the court erred when the proximate cause instruction was not read to the jury with the other instructions, and because the court failed to grant various motions in limine. The trial court denied the motion and plaintiffs appealed. The court found that Plaintiff did not demonstrate that the alleged error was preserved; however, even if it had, the court noted that there is no requirement that instructions be read to the jury. The written instructions were submitted to the jury together. Thus, there was no error. The court also found that Plaintiff’s either failed to preserve alleged error relating to the motions in limine or that there was no prejudice.

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