Here’s a summary of a recent court case where trial lawyers won a major verdict.
Joseph was thirty-five years old. He drove a 2002 Camry. One day, another car rear-ended Joseph’s car. The other driver’s name was Susan. She drove a 2000 Oldsmobile.
Joseph described the impact as “a sudden, boom. I get this tremendous hit from behind.” When asked whether he stepped out of his car, Joseph testified: “I was a bit shaken up in the immediate aftermath. My . . . glasses had gone flying, everything in the car was in total disarray.” Joseph did not describe whether his car sustained any damage.
Joseph didn’t remember whether he received any medical attention at the scene. Susan’s trial lawyer showed Joseph a copy of the police report. The report indicated that emergency medical personnel evaluated Joseph at the scene. They found he did not require treatment.
According to the police report, Joseph’s car was stopped at a red light when Susan’s car “bumped” his vehicle from behind.
Joseph testified that he drove away from the scene. He continued his activities for the rest of the day. (He was a wine salesperson). Joseph emphasized he had an important meeting that day. He drove to the meeting without experiencing any pain. Joseph did feel some pain, he claimed, as he drove home. He became worried that this latest accident could have “further exacerbated” injuries he sustained in two previous car accidents.
Two days before trial, Susan entered the hospital for a heart condition. Her trial lawyer requested a postponement. The judge refused. This despite the fact that the judge previously gave Joseph’s trial lawyer several postponements.
Because Susan was unable to testify at trial, her trial lawyer could not show the jury certain photographs. The pictures showed that Susan’s car sustained no damage in the supposedly “tremendous” collision. (Under the evidence rules, photographs have to be authenticated before they are shown to a jury).
Two Million Dollar Verdict for Trial Lawyers
The jury awarded Joseph $2,000,000. Susan’s trial lawyer appealed.
The appeals court reversed the verdict. The judges ruled that Susan should have been allowed a postponement. She will now get a new trial.
I should note that the appeals judges did not only rely on the fact that a postponement was denied. They also ruled that the trial judge made several other errors. Cumulatively, these errors denied Susan a fair trial. Trial lawyers take notice.