Mendoza v. WIS International Inc et al
CERTIFICATION ORDER, pursuant to Rule 6-8 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of the State of Arkansas, this Court certifies to the Supreme Court of Arkansas a question of law that may be determinative of this case. The Clerk is hereby directed to forward this Order to the Supreme Court of Arkansas under his official seal. Signed by Judge James M. Moody Jr. on 8/20/2015. (mcz)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
WIS INTERNATIONAL, INC. and
WASHINGTON INVENTORY SERVICES, INC.
Pursuant to Rule 6-8 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of the State of Arkansas, this
Court certifies to the Supreme Court of Arkansas a question of law that may be determinative of
this case and as to which it appears there is no controlling precedent in the decisions of the
Supreme Court of Arkansas.
QUESTION OF LAW TO BE ANSWERED
Under the facts of this case, whether the provisions of Ark. Code Ann. §27-37-703,
which restricts the admissibility of seat-belt-nonuse evidence in civil actions, violates the
separation of powers doctrine found in Article IV, Section 2 of the Arkansas Constitution.
FACTS RELEVANT TO THE QUESTION
This case arises out of a car accident that occurred on August 1, 2011 on Interstate 630 in
Little Rock. Plaintiff was a passenger in the backseat of a vehicle operated by Defendant
Anthony Adams when Adams fell asleep at the wheel and ran into the back of a parked
excavator. She has filed a complaint seeking damages for significant and permanent personal
injury. Plaintiff further alleges that Adams was in the course and scope of his employment with
Defendants WIS International, Inc. and Washington Inventory Services, Inc. (collectively
“WIS”) at the time of the accident. Defendants have answered and plead the affirmative defense
of comparative fault, specifically including Plaintiff’s failure to wear a seat belt at the time of the
Both WIS and Adams have filed motions challenging the constitutionality of Ark. Code
Ann. § 27-37-703 on the basis that this statute purports to limit or otherwise dictate what
evidence is admissible at trial and is, therefore, unconstitutional. Defendants’ arguments are
based on Article IV, §2 and Amendment 80, §3 of the Arkansas Constitution. Plaintiff
responded, and WIS filed a reply. A hearing was held on these motions on August 20, 2015, and
the Court announced its decision to certify this question to the Arkansas Supreme Court. A jury
trial is currently scheduled to begin on April 4, 2016.
This issue is likely to arise in federal diversity cases as well as in Arkansas circuit court
cases. It appears to the Court that there is no controlling precedent in the decisions of the
Arkansas Supreme Court on this issue.
III. REFORMULATION OF THE QUESTION
The United States District Court hereby acknowledges that the Arkansas Supreme Court,
acting as the receiving court, may reformulate the question presented.
IV. COUNSEL OF RECORD AND PARTIES
Attorneys for Plaintiff, Corina Mendoza:
Christopher Richard Heil
George R. Wise, Jr.
500 Pleasant Valley Drive, Suite C
Little Rock, AR 72227
David Paul Peterson
8303 Southwest Freeway, Suite 815
Houston, TX 77074
Brian G. Brooks
P.O. Box 605
Greenbrier, Arkansas 72058
Attorneys for Defendants WIS International, Inc. and Washington Inventory Services,
D. Michael Huckabay, Jr.
Kathryn B. Knisley
425 West Capitol Ave., Suite 1575
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201
Attorneys for Defendant Anthony Adams:
Richard Shane Strabala
Kara B. Mikles
400 West Capitol Avenue, Suite 1900
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201
F. Thomas Curry
P.O. Box 607
Arkadelphia, Arkansas 71923-0607
The Clerk of this Court is hereby directed to forward this Order to the Supreme Court of
Arkansas under his official seal.
It is so ordered this 20th day of August, 2015.
HONORABLE JAMES M. MOODY JR.
United States District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?