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Travis Keith and Gerri Plain obtained a defense verdict for their client in a highly disputed vehicle/pedestrian accident

Travis Keith and Gerri Plain obtained a defense verdict for their client in a highly disputed vehicle/pedestrian accident. At trial, the plaintiff testified she left her home and was walking to her sister’s house when the accident occurred. She approached the intersection, checked for traffic, and then started crossing the street – in a crosswalk – when the defendant “blew through the red light” and hit her with the front of his truck. She was then knocked beneath the truck and run over by both passenger-side tires. She testified after the accident, she was experiencing a great deal of pain and claimed the following injuries: L1 vertebral fracture; fracture of eight ribs; bilateral pneumothoraces; pulmonary contusion; splenic laceration; and continued neck, chest, and back pain. The defense impeached the plaintiff on cross examination with various inconsistencies in her trial testimony and prior deposition testimony. She was also questioned her regarding cocaine or drug use on the day of the accident. The plaintiff denied having used any drug, cocaine or otherwise, on the day of the accident. At the close of the plaintiff’s testimony, on the defendant’s motion, wantonness count was dismissed. The defense first presented the testimony of the police sergeant who investigated the accident, who was trained in both accident investigation and in determining whether someone was under the influence of drugs. He recalled arriving at the scene that night and finding the plaintiff sitting on a curb. He believed her to be under the influence of crack cocaine at that time, and he located a crack pipe in very near proximity to her. The Sergeant also confirmed he located and viewed a surveillance video at the nearby pizza restaurant that night. He testified the video showed the defendant coming to a complete stop at the light and then slowly proceeding into his right turn. The video showed that as the defendant was about halfway through his turn, the plaintiff stepped off the curb and right into the side of the defendant’s truck. She was then knocked under the truck and only the rear passenger tire ran over her. On cross-examination by the plaintiff, the Sergeant confirmed he had listed the defendant as the “primary contributing unit” on his accident report. The Sergeant acknowledged that he had done so, but then clarified that he had made a mistake on his accident report by placing the defendant as the primary contributing unit. He clarified it was actually his determination that night that the plaintiff was responsible for the accident. The defendant confirmed his version of events. The defendant looked both left and right before proceeding into his turn and did not see the plaintiff in the roadway at any time before he started into his turn. The defense then presented the deposition testimony of the physician who treated the plaintiff after the accident. The physician testified the plaintiff admitted using crack cocaine on the day of the accident, and the urine drug screen was positive for cocaine metabolite. The physician further confirmed that the plaintiff’s injuries, though serious, had not required any major medical intervention and were all injuries that he expected would heal with time. Following the doctor’s testimony, the defense rested. Motions for judgment as a matter of law were renewed and denied by the Judge. In closing, the plaintiff’s attorney asked the jury to return a verdict of $80,000. The defense focused on the inconsistencies in the plaintiff’s testimony, the complete consistency in the defendant’s testimony, and the fact that there were independent witnesses that supported the defendant’s version of events and confirmed that the plaintiff was under the influence of illicit drugs when the accident occurred. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant.

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