eNotes: Liability – April 2019
March 29, 2019
TT&H LAWYERS IN COURT
Joe Holko, Greg Kunkle and Christopher Gallagher win consent dismissal of five-million dollar counterclaim.
TT&H Attorneys Joe Holko, Greg Kunkle and Christopher Gallagher defended a five-million dollar counterclaim filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The claim arose from commercial auto lease agreements and personal guaranties for two dozen vehicles used for ridesharing in Key West, Florida. After TT&H filed a motion for summary judgment, counter- plaintiff agreed to a Consent Judgment and a dismissal of the counterclaim. In the Motion, Joe, Greg and Christopher had argued that counter-plaintiff’s fraud count was barred by the written terms of the leases, and that any personal claims of the guarantor were barred for lack of standing. It was also argued that TT&H’s client did not breach the lease agreements and that counter-plaintiff could not prove that his business would become the next Uber or Lyft, as had been claimed.
Questions about this case can be directed to Joe Holko, at (610) 332-7005 or email@example.com.
Joe Holko wins construction arbitration.
Joe Holko successfully defended a general contractor and a subcontractor against claims for damage to a roof, interior water damage, profits from lost rental value, and the diminution in the fair market value of a building. While Joe’s clients were renovating the façade of a 4-story commercial building in downtown Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ), falling construction debris damaged Plaintiff’s adjacent 2-story commercial building leased to the Commonwealth. Joe argued that the lease was about to terminate shortly after the damage occurred, that the building had received temporary repairs, and that the building was sold and demolished before the arbitration date. Although the Plaintiffs argued that value was lost when they sold the property, they were not able to substantiate that claim at arbitration. The arbitrators entered an award in Joe’s clients’ favor.
Questions about this case can be directed to Joe Holko, at (610) 332-7005 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
TT&H Attorney Joe Pulcini wins non-suit in Philadelphia County Court.
Attorney Joe Pulcini recently won a non-suit in connection with a negligence action filed in Philadelphia County. The case involved a slip and fall at a grocery store, with $72,000 in medical expenses being claimed, and a demand from the Plaintiff in the amount of $600,000. Joe’s client, a commercial landlord, had responsibility for the roof. The tenant assumed responsibility for an air conditioning unit in the ceiling of the store. The incident occurred at the time of a torrential rainstorm, after which water appeared in one of the aisles of the store. Plaintiff slipped and fell in the aisle, suffering a herniation requiring fusion surgery.
The precise source of the water in the aisle was difficult to ascertain. The water appeared to be due to either the roof or the air conditioning unit. Water seepage is believed to have occurred from winds of the passing storm. At trial, after the Plaintiff rested, Joe successfully moved for a non-suit, arguing that the landlord had no notice of the condition at issue.
Questions about this case can be directed to Joe Pulcini, at (610) 332-7027 or email@example.com.
TT&H SPEAKING OUT
On April 26, 2019, Ryan Blazure, an attorney in TTH’s Wilkes-Barre office, will be presenting in Scranton, PA on the following topic: Dirty Litigation Tactics: How to Deal with the “Rambo” Litigator. The seminar will address overly zealous, frustrating and all-too-common litigation techniques . . . and how to combat them effectively. Further details can be found at https://www.nbi-sems.com/ProductDetails/82063ER?ctname=SPKEM.
Questions about this seminar can be directed to Ryan Blazure, at (570) 820-0240 ext. 8603 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SIGNIFICANT CASE SUMMARIES
FEDERAL CASE SUMMARIES
Graham Eng’g Corp. v. Brunelle
United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
Decided: February 26, 2019
Defendants moved to dismiss plaintiff’s breach of implied contract, tortious interference with business relations, and civil conspiracy actions on jurisdictional grounds. The Court found that it had no general jurisdiction over the defendant company and/or its president, but did have specific jurisdiction over the implied breach of contract claim and deferred ruling on the intentional tort claims pending jurisdictional discovery.
Plaintiff Graham Engineering is a corporation that specializes in package design, plastic processing and extruder systems. It has a principal place of business in York, Pennsylvania. Defendant ProSystems is principally based in Rhode Island and is engaged in the business of designing control systems for its customers. A third party, American Kuhne, principally based in Rhode Island, contracted with ProSystems to provide specific control systems. Graham Engineering eventually purchased an 80% interest in American Kuhne. ProSystems continued to supply systems to American Kuhne until 2016, when Graham Engineering purchased the remaining 20% and relocated the entire manufacturing business to Pennsylvania.
Defendant Brunelle began meeting with former American Kuhne employees and current Graham Engineering employees in an effort to start a new company, U.S. Extruders. ProSystems was allegedly integrated with U.S. Extruders, which served as the basis for the above lawsuit. Graham Engineering advanced a claim for breach of implied contract against ProSystems, claims for tortious interference with business relations against both Brunelle and ProSystems, and a claim of civil conspiracy against Brunelle.
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), a party may move to dismiss a complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. A federal court may assert personal jurisdiction over a nonresident of the forum state to the extent authorized by law of the forum. The Pennsylvania Long-Arm Statute grants jurisdiction coextensive with that permitted by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Defendants argued that the Court may not exercise general jurisdiction over Graham Engineering’s claims because neither Brunelle nor ProSystems has the systematic and continuous contacts with Pennsylvania necessary to render them “at home” in the Commonwealth. Further, Defendants argued that the Court may not exercise specific jurisdiction because both defendants lacked sufficient minimum contacts with Pennsylvania.
Upon review, the Court held that it could not exercise general jurisdiction over ProSystems as it was not “at home” in Pennsylvania. ProSystems had no “continuous or systematic” contacts in Pennsylvania to include a lack of offices, employees, property, or bank accounts. In order to exercise specific jurisdiction, the plaintiff must show that the defendants created “specific minimum contacts” to confer the Court’s jurisdiction. The Court found that ProSystems relationship with Graham Engineering entailed performance of contractual duties and, at times, required ProSystems’ physical presence in Pennsylvania. The Court held that ProSystems created sufficient minimum contacts to confer the Court’s jurisdiction in Pennsylvania over the breach of implied contract claim. The Court, however, deferred ruling on the intentional tort claims, pending jurisdictional discovery. All other claims were dismissed.
Questions about this case can be directed to John Lucy, at (717) 441-7067 or email@example.com.
Morales v. Travelers Prop. Cas. Co.
United States District Court for Eastern District of Pennsylvania
Decided: February 14, 2019
Employer does not need to notify employee that it has rejected UIM coverage.
Plaintiff was involved in an automobile accident while in the course and scope of his employment. Plaintiff settled with the tortfeasor for policy limits of $15,000. Plaintiff subsequently filed a claim for UIM benefits under his employer’s policy and was denied as his employer had opted out of UIM coverage. Plaintiff filed a declaratory judgment action against his former employer and their automobile insurer after Plaintiff’s UIM claim was denied. There were no factual issues in dispute and both parties filed for summary judgment.
The Court held that Third Circuit and Pennsylvania Supreme Court precedent did not support the Plaintiff’s public policy argument and the employer was not required to notify Plaintiff of its choice to opt out of UIM coverage. The Court also held that the employer had properly rejected UIM coverage by signing a proper UIM coverage rejection form.
Questions about this case can be directed to Brook Dirlam, at (412) 926-1438 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
PENNSYLVANIA CASE SUMMARIES
Marshall v. Brown’s IA, LLC
Pennsylvania Superior Court
No. 2588 EDA 2017
Decided: March 27, 2019
Failure to preserve the amount of video evidence requested by plaintiff required adverse inference charge at trial.
Plaintiff Marshall slipped and fell on water in the produce section of a ShopRite store owned by defendant, Brown’s IA, LLC. Two weeks after the fall, plaintiff’s attorney sent a letter to ShopRite requesting that video surveillance of the area be preserved for six hours prior to the fall and three hours after the fall. The letter warned that plaintiff would seek an adverse inference if the requested time period was not preserved. The letter was received by ShopRite. ShopRite saved 37 minutes before the fall and 20 minutes after the fall. After 30 days, the video was automatically written over. A manager testified that the “rule of thumb” for ShopRite was to retain video for 20 minutes before and after an incident.
At trial, plaintiff asserted that ShopRite made a conscious decision not to retain the requested video, which required a finding of spoliation of evidence and an adverse inference charge to the jury. ShopRite argued that since the preserved video did not show a substance on the floor, additional prior video would similarly show nothing and be irrelevant. The Trial Court agreed with ShopRite and refused the instruction, finding that the fact that video was requested did not, in and of itself, make it relevant evidence. The Court also found that there was no bad faith in the decision of ShopRite to refuse to preserve additional video. The jury found in favor of ShopRite. Plaintiff appealed and requested a new trial based on the failure to give the adverse inference charge to the jury.
The Superior Court determined that the Trial Court committed an abuse of discretion in refusing to give the adverse inference instruction based on ShopRite’s spoliation of the video evidence. The Superior Court found that the Trial Court took an “unreasonably narrow view” of what constituted relevant evidence. Citing to the fact that plaintiff’s burden of proving notice of a dangerous condition is a “heavy one,” the Court stated that video evidence may be useful in meeting that burden. The Court indicated that video in this instance may have shown someone dropping something in the area of the fall (even though the residue may not be visible on the floor), or may have shown someone slipping in the same area. The Court agreed that the amount of time requested by plaintiff did not define the scope of relevant evidence, but neither did the defendant’s “rule of thumb”. The Court noted that if ShopRite disagreed with the scope of the request, efforts should have been made to contact counsel to reach an agreement or seek court intervention. Simply, ShopRite was on notice of the requested time period of video preservation, had the ability at the time of the request to preserve the video, and consciously decided not to do so. The fact that there may have been an absence of bad faith did not negate the spoliation, but rather governed the type of sanction appropriate. The Court determined that the adverse inference charge was the least severe sanction available and it was error for the Court not to give the charge to the jury in this instance.
Questions about this case can be directed to Rebecca Sember-Izsak, at (412) 926-1446 or email@example.com.
Ludwig v. McDonald
Pennsylvania Superior Court
2019 Pa. Super. 47
Decided: February 21, 2019
Employer found not vicariously liable for employee’s negligent actions while driving a work vehicle during employee’s vacation.
Plaintiff presented a claim of vicarious liability against Employer, LTC Associates, averring that their employee, Mr. McDonald, was operating his vehicle within the scope of his employment and with the consent of LTC Associates at the time of the collision.
The Superior Court found that Mr. McDonald was not acting within the scope of his employment or in furtherance of LTC Associates’ business at the time of the motor vehicle accident because (1) Mr. McDonald was not on the clock and was using his “vacation time;” (2) Mr. McDonald merely went to his place of employment, retrieved personal tools for a home project, and was driving home when the accident occurred; and (3) Mr. McDonald was using his personal vehicle, that he secondarily used for work purposes. There were no facts to support that the employer exercised actual or potential control over Mr. McDonald or the vehicle at the time of the collision or that Mr. McDonald’s actions were of such vital importance in furthering the business of LTC Associates that control could reasonably be inferred.
Questions about this case can be directed to Jolee Bovender, at (717) 255-7626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Massaro v. Tincher Contracting LLC
Pennsylvania Superior Court
No. 1013 EDA 2018
Decided: February 19, 2019
Summary judgment granted to two named defendants was not a final, appealable order because of unresolved claims against John Doe defendants.
Plaintiff brought an action against a corporation, its principal, and ten John Doe defendants. The claims sounded in breach of express and implied contracts, unjust enrichment, breach of implied warranty, and unfair trade practices. Plaintiff sought the same relief against all of the defendants, including the John Does. Summary judgment was granted to the corporation and its principal. There was no disposition of the claims against the John Does. Nonetheless, plaintiff appealed. The Superior Court quashed the appeal because it was not taken from a final order.
The general rule in Pennsylvania is that an appeal will lie only from a final order. A final order is one which disposes of all parties and all claims. In this case, the summary judgment in favor of the two named defendants was not a final and appealable order because of the unresolved claims against John Doe defendants.
Questions about this case can be directed to Louis Long, at (412) 926-1424 or email@example.com.
Powers v. Verizon Pa., LLC
Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas
August Term 2017, No. 1977
Decided: December 24, 2018
Action transferred from Philadelphia County to Bucks County pursuant to doctrine of forum non conveniens.
Plaintiff Powers stepped on the lid of a cable service box and suffered injuries. He sued the owner of the box, Verizon Pennsylvania, as well as Oxford Lane, the community organization for the community where he fell. Plaintiff commenced suit in Philadelphia County. Verizon filed a Petition for Forum Non Conveniens to Transfer Venue to Bucks County.
In Verizon’s Petition, it alleged that Plaintiff’s chosen forum of Philadelphia was oppressive to Verizon because all of the parties to the case either resided or operated outside of Philadelphia County, that all of the fact witnesses who might testify at trial resided outside of Philadelphia County, and that Plaintiff received all of his medical treatment in Bucks or Montgomery Counties.
The Trial Court ruled that Verizon had sustained its burden of establishing that Plaintiff’s chosen forum was oppressive. The Court specifically relied upon the Pennsylvania Superior Court’s decision in Mateu v. Stout, 819 A.2d 563 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2003), stating that a party may establish that a forum is oppressive by showing that conducting a trial in another county would provide access to witnesses or other evidence, or that it would provide the ability to view the site of the accident. The Trial Court highlighted that Plaintiff failed to dispute the factual averments supporting Verizon’s Petition.
Questions about this case can be directed to Julia Morrison, at (717) 441-7056 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
MARYLAND CASE SUMMARY
Gables Constr. v. Red Coats, Inc.
Maryland Court of Special Appeals
September Term, 2017, No. 907
Decided: February 27, 2019
Contractual waivers of subrogation do not shield a contracting party from third-party contribution and direct liability under the Maryland Uniform Contribution Among Joint-Tortfeasors Act.
Upper Rock was the project owner of an apartment building. Upper Rock entered into a Prime Contract with a contractor, Gables Construction (“GCI”), for the construction of a complex that included Building G, a 139-unit apartment building. Gables Residential Services Incorporated (“GRSI”), the owner of GCI, contracted with Red Coats pursuant to a Vendor Services Agreement (“VSA”), for the provision of fire watch and security services for the Project. In the early morning hours of April 1, 2014, a fire damaged the building. The cause of the fire was improperly placed heaters in the building. Upper Rock sued Red Coats and Tamika Shelton, the Red Coats’ security guard on duty at the time of the fire. Red Coats settled with Upper Rock for $14 million. After the settlement, Red Coats and Shelton sought contribution from GCI as part of a previously filed third-party complaint.
GCI pointed to a waiver of subrogation clause in the VSA, and filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the VSA insulated it, as a named additional insured, from Red Coats’ third-party complaint. Summary judgment was denied and a jury determined that GCI’s negligence was a proximate cause of the building fire and that GCI was a joint tortfeasor with Red Coats. Accordingly, the Circuit Court awarded $7 Million to Red Coats. GCI appealed, presenting a question of first impression: whether, and under what circumstances, a contractual waiver can shield a contracting party from both third-party contribution and direct liability, in addition to other issues. GCI argued that Red Coats’ claim for contribution was barred by the waiver of subrogation in the Prime Contract. Red Coats responded that neither it nor Shelton were parties to that contract.
The Court of Special Appeals held that a contractual waiver of subrogation does not protect a party from third-party contribution and direct liability under the Maryland Uniform Contribution Among Joint Tort-Feasors Act. It explained that the waiver of subrogation is only relevant to the contract and does not “spring from the relationship of the parties.” Therefore, the Court affirmed the Circuit Court’s rulings and held that the contractual waiver in the VSA and the settlement agreement controlled the relationship between GCI and Red Coats.
Questions about this case can be directed to Salvatore Cardile, at (410) 653-0460 or email@example.com.
NEW JERSEY CASE SUMMARY
Blanco-Sanchez v. Personal Serv. Ins. Co.
New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division
No. A-5393-16T4, 2019 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 458
Decided: February 28, 2019
An owner cannot give permission to a driver who is known to be unlicensed and, therefore, the unlicensed driver is barred from any recovery of PIP benefits.
Plaintiff’s mother left her car parked on the street, subsequently realized that the street sweeper would be coming that day, and called her daughter (Plaintiff) and asked her to have the car moved. Plaintiff’s mother knew that her daughter did not have a driver’s license and she expected that her daughter would get someone else to move the car, as she had in the past. Plaintiff was unable to find someone to move the car, decided to do it herself, and was injured in an accident. Plaintiff applied for PIP coverage from her mother’s auto insurance. The insurer denied the claim, finding that Plaintiff did not have permission to drive the car because it was “impossible” for the insured to give an unlicensed driver permission to drive the car.
Plaintiff filed a complaint for declaratory relief. The Trial Court dismissed her claim, finding that Plaintiff could not benefit from her own illegal conduct.
The Appellate Division affirmed, holding that as a matter of public policy, an owner cannot give permission to a driver who is known to be unlicensed and, therefore, the unlicensed driver is barred from any recovery under New Jersey’s No Fault Act for PIP benefits. The Court stated that to require insurers to provide coverage for unlicensed individuals who by definition are ineligible for coverage would contravene the State’s public policy that all drivers be licensed.
Questions about this case can be directed to Charles Skriner, at (610) 332-7001 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rashid v. Reed
New Jersey Superior Court, Trial Division
2018 N.J. Super. Lexis 184
Decided: July 31, 2018 (approved for publication on February 25, 2019)
It is irrelevant whether another individual involved in the same accident sustained an injury in order to help prove that Plaintiff was also injured in the accident.
Plaintiff Rashid alleged personal injuries in a motor vehicle accident caused by Defendant Jillian Reed. Prior to trial, Defendant stipulated to negligence and the only issue to be addressed by the jury was whether Plaintiff sustained a permanent injury and whether Plaintiff was entitled to pain and suffering damages under N.J. Verbal Threshold limitation. During direct examination, Plaintiff testified that he was working as a jitney driver at the time of the accident. The jitney was struck on the passenger side by Defendant’s vehicle shortly after picking up passengers from a local casino. Plaintiff was then asked what happened to one of the passengers in the jitney at the time of the impact and Defense counsel objected. At sidebar, Plaintiff’s counsel indicated that his client was prepared to testify that one of the jitney passengers was thrown from her seat, injured and taken by ambulance to a hospital. Defendant argued this was irrelevant to whether Plaintiff was injured. Plaintiff countered that the testimony was relevant with respect to the severity of the impact and since a passenger was injured it was likely Plaintiff was also injured. The Court ruled that while Plaintiff may testify about the passenger on the jitney being thrown from her seat as evidence of the severity of the impact, it was improper for Plaintiff to testify about passenger being injured as a result of the accident. The Court issued a written opinion to supplement its decision.
In its supplemental written decision, the Trial Court explained that “even when liability is stipulated, there can be appropriate references to the happening of the accident as such information may be relevant to the nature of the injuries sustained and damages.” The Trial Court pointed out that the fact that a passenger was thrown from her seat during the accident was relevant to the severity of the impact. On the issue of whether Plaintiff may testified that another individual was injured in the same accident, the Court explained it is irrelevant as “[t]here are many variables that factor into whether an individual sustains an injury in a motor vehicle accident. . . .” Because passengers in the same vehicle have different body types, are in different positions and experience different degrees of force during an accident, neither Plaintiff nor Defendant, in ordinary circumstances, should be able to refer to the injury or lack of injury of another individual involved in the accident for the purpose of proving or disproving Plaintiff’s alleged injuries.
Questions about this case can be directed to Paraskevoula Mamounas, at (610) 332-7029 or email@example.com.
Kuzian v. Tomaszewski
New Jersey Superior Court, Trial Division
2018 N.J. Super. Lexis 183
Decided: July 12, 2018 (approved for publication on February 19, 2019)
Any line of inquiry regarding whether a vehicle was totaled in an accident in the context of a personal injury action is irrelevant.
Plaintiff Kuzian alleged personal injuries in a motor vehicle accident caused by Defendant Tomaszewski. At trial, during direct examination of Plaintiff, his counsel inquired whether Plaintiff’s vehicle was totaled as a result of the accident. Defense counsel objected arguing the question was improper because whether or not the vehicle was totalled (or a total loss) without more information could mislead the jury regarding the extent of the actual damage to the vehicle. Plaintiff asserted that whether the vehicle was totaled is relevant with respect to the extent of the collision and its corresponding impact on Plaintiff’s injuries. The Court sustained the objection on the basis of relevancy and then issued a written opinion to supplement its decision.
In its supplemental written decision, the Trial Court explained that the use of photographs from an accident is distinguishable from advising the jury that a vehicle was totaled. Testimony regarding whether a vehicle was totaled does not provide a jury with the same information as photographs or testimony regarding the extent of the damage as it can be misleading because the term “totaled” has different meanings. Given the different meanings, it was improper to allow either party to raise the issue without more information. The Court further noted that this issue is routinely raised by Defense counsel when the vehicle at issue is not declared a total loss, and this is equally misleading and irrelevant. While the Court recognized that the extent of the impact is relevant in an automobile negligence action, whether a car was totaled does not provide the jury with meaningful information with respect to the severity of impact.
Questions about this case can be directed to Paraskevoula Mamounas, at (610) 332-7029 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
DC CASE SUMMARY
Waugh v. Medstar Georgetown Univ. Hosp.
District of Columbia Court of Appeals
Decided: March 14, 2019
D.C. Court of Appeals affirms dismissal of medical malpractice suit and
clarifies statutory extension of statute of limitations by pre-suit notice within 90 days before filing complaint.
Brian Keith Waugh, a pro se plaintiff, sued Medstar Georgetown University Hospital in the D.C. Superior Court for medical malpractice arising out of alleged improper treatment during the insertion of an IV leading to injury. The Trial Court granted Medstar’s Motion to Dismiss on the alternative grounds that Waugh failed to file his suit prior to the running of the statute of limitations and that he failed to comply with the statutory pre-suit notice requirement for medical malpractice claims in the District of Columbia.
The D.C. Court of Appeals affirmed the Trial Court’s dismissal, finding that Waugh’s complaint was time-barred by the statute of limitations and that Waugh failed to comply with the statutory notice provision. The Court rejected Waugh’s argument that the language of the pre-suit notice statute allows for providing notice after the running of the statute of limitations because such an interpretation contravenes the policy rationale inherent in statutes of limitations. The Court also found Waugh’s argument that filing the Complaint satisfies the notice requirement to be meritless. Finally, the Court of Appeals held that Waugh’s fax to the health department was “wholly insufficient to establish that he served ‘the intended defendant.’”
Questions about this case can be directed to Peter Biberstein, at (202) 945-9506 or email@example.com.
VIRGINIA CASE SUMMARY
Shumate v. Mitchell
Virginia Supreme Court
822 S.E.2d 9, 2018 Va. LEXIS 195, 2018 WL 6696557
Decided: December 20, 2018
Virginia Supreme Court upholds Plaintiff’s verdict for $0 in an admitted liability case.
Plaintiff was rear-ended by Defendant at a stoplight. Defendant admitted liability, so the case proceeded on damages only. A variety of testimony was elicited as to both the speed of Defendant’s vehicle and the nature of the impact. Plaintiff told medical providers, at different times, that Defendant was traveling at 40 mph and 35 mph. At trial, she testified that Defendant was traveling at least 20 mph. Defendant’s passenger estimated Defendant’s speed at 5-6 mph. Defendant died from unrelated causes before trial; however, shortly after the accident, he told his son that he was traveling at 5-7 mph when the accident occurred. Plaintiff’s son, a passenger in her car at the time, described the impact as a hard slam. Defendant’s passenger quantified impact as a bump that didn’t jar him. Witnesses described minimal visible damage to either vehicle and Plaintiff did not introduce a repair estimate.
Plaintiff had been involved in three auto accidents before the subject accident. She visited a pain management clinic regularly in the months leading up to the subject accident and had a facet injection in her neck 5 days before the accident. After the accident at issue, Plaintiff underwent two spinal surgeries. At trial, Plaintiff’s treating surgeon related the surgeries to the subject accident, but only because Plaintiff reported that her symptoms started after the accident and that she was doing very well before that. Defendant’s expert neurosurgeon opined that Plaintiff had sustained no injury at all in the subject accident and that none of the medical expenses after the collision were related “except going to the ER the day of the accident to make sure something wasn’t injured” because “that makes sense.” The jury returned a verdict for Plaintiff of $0. The Trial Court refused to set aside the verdict.
When a jury has returned a zero dollar verdict, the issue is whether the plaintiff produced sufficient evidence to require the jury to award her damages. Here, the nature and extent of Plaintiff’s injuries, and their connection to the collision, was conflicting and highly dependent on the credibility and weight accorded by the jury to witness testimony. The jury, as the sole judge of the weight to be given to medical evidence, physician reports, and credibility, was entitled to reject Plaintiff’s testimony and conclude that she was feigning or exaggerating her injuries. The testimony of the defense expert that it made sense for Plaintiff to go to the emergency room was not a concession by the defense that Plaintiff sustained an injury in the accident and did not require the jury to award some amount of damages.
Questions about this case can be directed to Lacey Conn, at (202) 945-9502 or firstname.lastname@example.org.