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Mueller v. Buscemi

Supreme Court of Alaska

May 21, 2010

Coleen L. MUELLER, Appellant,
v.
Lottie BUSCEMI and Geraldine Estabrook, individually and as Trustees of the Michael Nafla Irrevocable Trust, Appellees.

Rehearing Denied July 13, 2010.

Page 1154

Kenneth P. Jacobus, Kenneth P. Jacobus, P.C., Anchorage, for Appellant.

Laura L. Farley, Farley & Graves, P.C., Anchorage, for Appellees.

Before: FABE, WINFREE, and CHRISTEN, Justices.

OPINION

CHRISTEN, Justice.

I. INTRODUCTION

Coleen Mueller appeals a jury verdict absolving Lottie Buscemi and Geraldine Estabrook (collectively, " Buscemi" ), owners of a commercial building and adjacent parking lot, of tort liability. Mueller slipped and was injured while attempting to enter her car in the rear parking lot of Buscemi's property. Mueller claims the trial court erred by: (1) excluding evidence that the insurer's investigation concluded that the building's exterior lights were not working when Mueller fell; (2) excluding evidence of other substantially similar accidents; and (3) excluding evidence that Buscemi had a habit of ignoring building maintenance. Because the trial court's exclusion of this evidence was not an abuse of discretion, we affirm.

II. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

Mueller slipped and was injured while attempting to enter her car in the rear parking lot of Buscemi's commercial building. She sued Buscemi for personal injuries suffered as a result of the accident, alleging that Buscemi's failure to treat icy conditions and to provide adequate exterior lighting was the proximate cause of her injuries. Mueller claims to have suffered personal injuries, incurred present and future medical expenses, and lost income because of Buscemi's allegedly negligent maintenance of the parking lot.

Judgment was entered in Buscemi's favor after a jury trial, and Mueller appeals.

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

We review the trial court's evidentiary rulings for abuse of discretion.[1] An abuse of discretion will be found when we are " left with a definite and firm conviction that the trial court erred in its ruling and ...


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