Morrison Mahoney Associate Erin Hoefler recently obtained a defense verdict in a motor-vehicle case following a jury trial in New Hampshire Superior Court.
The plaintiff, driving a small sedan, claimed (1) that she was sitting at a red light when our insured, driving a full-size pickup with a plow attached, contacted her vehicle from behind and (2) that, as a result, she suffered severe neck and back injuries, as well as shoulder impingement. Our insured alleged (1) that he had been following the plaintiff for some time, (2) that, for reasons unknown to him, the plaintiff prematurely braked hard upon approach to the subject light, which was yellow at the time, (3) that slick road conditions prevented the insured from bringing his vehicle to a complete stop behind the plaintiff’s vehicle, (4) that he was able to avoid contact with the plaintiff’s motor-vehicle by swerving to the left, (5) that following the incident he observed a mere scratch on the plaintiff’s car (confirmed by photos) but did not believe that his vehicle caused the scratch, and (6) that the plaintiff had emerged from her car apparently uninjured and refused medical treatment.
Discovery revealed the following of note: The plaintiff’s medical expert attributed all of the plaintiffs’ alleged ailments to the accident and issued to her a 5% whole-body impairment. The plaintiff, however, had a long history of pre-accident back problems, including a T5 compression fracture, a herniated disc, bulging discs, and long-term lower-back pain caused by degenerative disc disease. Additionally, she had a long history of pre-accident shoulder problems, and she did not seek shoulder-related treatment until seven months after the subject accident. The defense’s medical expert opined that the plaintiff suffered no injury in the subject accident.
At trial, the plaintiff was excessively emotional and generally appeared to lack credibility. The jury returned a defense verdict in one hour. Especially notable is that the insured, whose testimony was critical, now resides in Florida and could not be compelled to testify in New Hampshire. Nevertheless, Erin convinced him to travel to New Hampshire.
This is Erin’s fourth trial win in the last 13 months.