Fatal Mitchell traffic case to be heard by Supreme Court todayA Mitchell case will be among those heard this morning by the South Dakota Supreme Court at the Sherman Center on the campus of Dakota Wesleyan University.
By: Staff reports, The Daily Republic
A Mitchell case will be among those heard this morning by the South Dakota Supreme Court at the Sherman Center on the campus of Dakota Wesleyan University.
At 9 a.m., justices will hear oral arguments in an appeal from the family of Ethan Holznagel, a Mitchell teenager who died in a 2006 traffic collision.
Holznagel’s parents, Wayne and Paula Holznagel, sued the driver of the other vehicle, John Cutsinger, and his employer, Dependable Sanitation. Cutsinger was driving a recycling truck at the time of the accident.
A local jury found in favor of Cutsinger and his employer.
Evidence was presented at trial that Holznagel may have been speeding.
Physical evidence was also presented indicating he was operating a portable CD player and leaning over on the passenger side until just before impact, suggesting that he may not have been maintaining a proper lookout for other traffic.
After the collision, Cutsinger continued to work. He was later called into his supervisor’s office and informed that Holznagel died as a result of the injuries he suffered in the collision. Cutsinger has admitted that he smoked marijuana when he returned home. Cutsinger has also admitted that he has smoked marijuana approximately 50 times before reporting to work. However, law enforcement found no indication that Cutsinger was under the influence of marijuana at the time of this accident.
At trial, lawyers for Cutsinger and Dependable Sanitation moved to exclude any suggestion that Cutsinger was under the influence of marijuana or any other drug at the time of the accident. The motion also sought to exclude Cutsinger’s prior misdemeanor conviction for marijuana possession. The trial court granted the motion.
The Holznagels’ appeal asks whether the trial court erred when it granted the motion barring the plaintiffs from presenting evidence that Cutsinger was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the accident.
The lawyers for the Holznagels are Jim Miskimins and Jim Taylor, both of Mitchell. The defendants’ lawyers are listed as Michael L. Luce and Rochelle R. Sweetman.
Today is the third and final day of Supreme Court oral arguments in Mitchell. Two more cases will be heard following the Holznagel arguments. The justices will issue opinions at a later date.