District Court, Salt Lake Department The Honorable James D.
Gardner No. 160903176
F. Bertch, Attorney for Appellant
D. Taylor and Matthew D. Church, Attorneys for Appellee
Ryan M. Harris authored this Opinion, in which Judges Kate
Appleby and Jill M. Pohlman concurred.
While giving her brother Luis Luna (Luna) a ride to work,
Maria Luna (Sister) was involved in an automobile accident in
which Luna was injured. Luna sued Sister for negligence, yet
during depositions testified unequivocally that the traffic
light was green in Sister's favor. Sister contends-and we
agree-that this testimony constitutes a binding judicial
admission that Luna cannot contest at trial, and we therefore
conclude that the district court properly entered partial
summary judgment against Luna on the issue of whether the
light was green. While this fact alone does not entitle
Sister to complete summary judgment, the court's entry of
judgment in Sister's favor was appropriate on the facts
of this case, where Luna produced no evidence of negligence
other than potential testimony about the color of the traffic
light. We therefore affirm the district court's summary
judgment order, as well as a challenged discovery order.
Sister was giving Luna a ride to work one morning when their
vehicle was struck by another driver (Driver) at an
intersection controlled by a traffic light. Because Driver
and Sister each entered the intersection perpendicular to one
another, the light could not have been green for both of
them. Luna sustained injuries from the accident, and
eventually brought suit against both Driver and Sister for
negligence and other related claims. In his complaint, Luna
alleged that Driver had caused the accident by running a red
light or, in the alternative, that Sister had caused the
accident by running a red light. Luna also alleged that both
drivers had failed to maintain a proper lookout and failed to
yield to the other vehicle.
All parties to the suit were deposed, and Sister and Driver
each testified that they had the green light when they
entered the intersection. Luna was deposed twice and, during
each deposition, his testimony was given through a
Spanish-language interpreter. Each time, he
testified-repeatedly-that the light was green for Sister when
she entered the intersection. At his first deposition, he
testified as follows:
Q. Did you see the color of the light as you were entering
A. Yes. It was green.
Q. How long had the light been green before you entered the
A. Since we went through it until it hit us.
Q. How many seconds had the light been green before you
entered the intersection?
A. I would not be able to tell you.
. . . .
Q. You don't know how far back you were from the
intersection when you first noticed the color of the light?
A. I will repeat myself. It was green when we went through
. . . .
Q. So what I want to know is exactly where was your car in
relation to the intersection when you first noticed the color
of the light. . . . I'm just trying to figure out where
you were when you first noticed the light.
A. Well we saw it-we were driving, we saw that it was green,
and when we passed through the intersection it was already
green. We were okay.
. . . .
Q. Was the light always green from the moment that you first
saw it until the moment of the impact?
Three weeks later, Luna was again deposed. Though he stated
that he did not give the road the same attention as he would
have had he been the one behind the wheel, he again
emphasized that the light was green when Sister entered the
Q. Now based on your previous testimony the last time we were
here, you were absolutely adamant that the light was green as
you proceeded through the intersection; is that correct?
. . . .
Q. You were in the car the day the accident happened;
A. Yes, of course.
Q. You saw the light was green as you were going through the
A. Well, I'll tell you again, yes, I was looking, but I
wasn't looking to see who else was looking. I was merely
focused on the idea that I was headed to work. So I'll
tell you again, all I had on my mind was what I would be
doing when I got to work, and that's what occupied my
thinking. . . . Any ...