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Sam Rotenstreich and Chris Mauck obtained a defense verdict for their client in a motor vehicle accident case where liability and causation were disputed.

On the early evening of March 28, 2018, Plaintiff left her house heading to the store to grab dinner driving southbound on County Road 27 in Rural Fayette, Alabama. At the same time, the defendant and her 4 children drove to church heading northbound on the same road. All testimony noted this county road is narrow and unmarked. As the parties’ vehicles approached a hillcrest, the defendant glanced in her rearview mirror to talk to one of her children then looked forward to see the plaintiff’s vehicle and hers violently colliding in a sideswiping motion. Two days before the statute of limitations ran, the plaintiff filed suit against the defendant alleging theories of negligence and wantonness. The defendant disputed liability and defended on the theory of contributory negligence.

Interestingly, the plaintiff neither obtained nor admitted medical testimony regarding her subsequent treatment as a result of the accident. The plaintiff, at the beginning of her testimony, stated she had no memory of the accident at all or ever seeing the defendant’s vehicle at any point on the road. In addition, the plaintiff testified to the pain and suffering she endured as a result of the accident while only claiming her date of loss treatment and bills. After the wreck, the plaintiff said she was ambulanced to be evacuated via helicopter to fly to UAB hospital for immediate treatment regarding pain to the head, neck, back, abdomen and her only leg Following the plaintiff’s testimony, the defendant testified as an adverse witness stating the plaintiff was speeding and positioned too close to the center of the road. The plaintiff also offered as evidence photographs depicting the damage sustained to both parties’ vehicles. The plaintiff’s health insurance, Alabama Medicaid, only paid part of the plaintiff’s medical bills, while UAB sought a hospital lien for $40,254.76. Once the plaintiff rested her case, the defendant moved for judgment as a matter of law on the plaintiff’s negligence and wantonness claims due to the fact the plaintiff testified numerous times that she did not remember anything before, during or after the accident. The trial court in part granted the wantonness claim and denied the negligence claim because the defendant provided the opinion both parties were at fault.

Thus, the Defendant proceeded with her case in chief by calling a fact witness that saw the wreck occur in his rearview mirror. The witness testified he had been traveling in front of the defendant’s vehicle heading northbound in his pickup on the same county road before the accident. The witness harped on the fact that prior to the accident between the plaintiff and defendant, he slightly moved to the right-side of the road to avoid colliding with the plaintiff’s vehicle. Additionally, the witness opined that he thought the plaintiff was speeding prior to the accident between the plaintiff’s and defendant’s vehicles.

At closing, the plaintiff argued the jury should award damages up to $150,000 because of the defendant’s negligence by taking her eye off the road to talk to her child in the rearview mirror. The defendant argued the jury should rule in favor of the defense based on the fact the plaintiff was speeding and too close to the center of the road resulting in her being contributory negligent.

The case tried for two days before a jury in Fayette County. The jury deliberated for less than one hour before returning a defense verdict.

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