Peters v. Pierce

In Peters v. Pierce, 308 Ark. 60, 823 S.W.2d 820 (Ark 1992), the driver of a truck brought an action against the driver of a vehicle which allegedly rear-ended his pickup truck. 823 S.W.2d at 820. The defendant, Pierce, was asked by his own counsel on direct examination "how long he had been retired." Id. Pierce responded that "retired May 1st of 1988. And now, whatever I have, if it is taken away from me, I can't replace. I'm too old. I don't work anymore. I do occasionally part time, but not on a regular basis." Id. at 820-21. Peters had offered proof that he had incurred medical bills of $ 5,000 and loss of wages between $ 126,000 and $ 135,000, but a jury awarded him only $ 6,000. Id. at 820. Peters argued that he should be allowed to offer evidence that Pierce had received $ 50,000 in liability insurance because Peters had opened the door to such testimony. The Arkansas Supreme Court determined that Pierce did in fact "open the door." The court noted in its decision, "Pierce injected his limited personal resources into issue, casting doubt before the jury that he could afford or financially survive a judgment against him. By doing so, he portrayed a false, or at least a misleading picture, that he alone would absorb any loss or judgment, and under these limited and special circumstances, Peters had the right to answer Pierce's portrayal by giving the jury the full and complete picture. " Id. at 822.