Attorney Sarah Christie successfully obtained a defense verdict in a jury trial in Bristol Superior Court in a case arising from a motorcycle accident occurring in Bourne, Massachusetts.
The plaintiff was operating his motorcycle behind a Toyota Tacoma which was being operated by an employee of the defendant auto detailing company. Unexpectedly, the fiberglass bed cover of the Tacoma became loose and flew into the air before striking the plaintiff and his motorcycle. The plaintiff claimed that he put his right arm into the air in an attempt to deflect the detached cover, but the cover hit the front fender and right mirror of the motorcycle before striking him the right forearm and across the top of the head. The plaintiff was able to stay upright on his motorcycle. Plaintiff alleged that the employee of the defendant auto detailing company, who was in the process of delivering the Tacoma to an auto dealer, was negligent insofar as he failed to inspect the vehicle following it being detailed and prior to operating same.
The plaintiff alleged he sustained serious injuries including left shoulder and right elbow injuries as well as abrasions and other injuries. In addition to his claim for physical injuries, the plaintiff also claimed he sustained lost wages as he was unable to work as a fishing boat mechanic during his recovery. Plaintiff’s treating doctor assigned the plaintiff a 20 percent permanent impairment of the upper extremity and 12 percent whole person impairment.
Attorney Christie filed several Motions in Limine prior to trial, including a Motion in Limine to Preclude Lost Wages based on the plaintiff’s failure to produce supporting documentation during discovery. Though the motion was initially denied, the court ordered the plaintiff to disclose any documentation he could then locate to support his claim. As a result, the plaintiff produced a diary that appeared to show that the plaintiff in fact was working during the period of time he claimed he could not. The diary further showed that the plaintiff traveled to Alaska and Aruba on vacation during times when he claimed he could not work or was otherwise limited. Upon receipt of the diary, Attorney Christie renewed the Motion in Limine to Preclude Lost Wages. In response, the plaintiff withdrew the lost wages/impairment of earning capacity component of his
Further, Attorney Christie moved to have the impairment rating and references to disability from plaintiff’s treating doctor precluded from evidence. In the midst of the doctor’s audio-video deposition, it had come to light that a medical record had been altered to include specific findings of limitations to the left shoulder and the right elbow/forearm that were used as a basis for the permanency rating. When questioned about the amendment, the doctor stated that he did not know when exactly the document was altered. After the deposition, Attorney Christie issued a subpoena to the doctor for all electronic records related to the report and discovered that the findings of limitations to the left shoulder and right elbow/forearm had been added to the record a month after the doctor last saw the plaintiff, following conversations and correspondence with plaintiff’s counsel. In addition, during his AV deposition, the doctor also testified that he was “not an expert” as to impairment ratings. Though the motion to preclude evidence of the disability rating was denied and the doctor’s AV deposition was played at trial for the jury, in light of the foregoing the doctor’s testimony did not advance the plaintiff’s case.
After brief deliberations, the jury returned a verdict in favor of both the defendant auto detailing company and the defendant driver/employee.