Rolf Kroll obtained a unanimous verdict of no negligence for his 16 year-old client who was driving on her permit, at night, when she attempted a left turn from a parking lot onto Route 30 and collided with the Plaintiff who had the right of way. The evidence revealed that Rolf’s client crossed four lanes of travel on Route 30, before she collided with the Plaintiff’s vehicle in the right, eastbound lane of the busiest road in town. Plaintiff claimed that Rolf’s client traveled directly across four lanes of travel and collided with the side of her vehicle in the fifth lane of travel. Plaintiff claimed that the accident caused her to undergo multiple knee surgeries and resulted in permanent injuries and damages. Plaintiff claimed as a result of the injuries sustained in the accident, that she was permanently and totally disabled.
With regard to damages, prior to trial, Rolf moved to exclude causation testimony from Plaintiff’s treating orthopedic expert on the basis that such testimony was beyond the scope of his reports. As a result of the motions, the Court allowed the expert to testify, but limited the testimony to just six months of care and treatment. Consequently, Plaintiff’s expert was precluded from testifying regarding permanent injury. Additionally, Plaintiff was precluded from mentioning all but one of the surgeries performed. Plaintiff was similarly precluded from testifying regarding pain and suffering that post-dated the accident by more than six months. Finally, Plaintiff’s medical records were used to debunk her claims that she had no prior injuries.
With the damage portion of the case in hand, Rolf attacked Plaintiff’s negligence claim. At first this appeared to be an uphill battle. There was no dispute that Rolf’s client was in the process of turning left onto Route 30. There was no dispute that she was in the process of making a left turn across multiple lanes of traffic, in the rain, and at night. At trial, Plaintiff made much of the fact that Rolf’s client was still operating on her learner’s permit and admitted at the accident scene that she “did not know what happened.” Additionally, the damage to Plaintiff’s vehicle was to her driver’s side in the area of the mid-post, arguably supporting Plaintiff’s claim that she was “t-boned.” Finally, the evidence suggested that the point of impact was all the way across four lanes Route 30 also supporting Plaintiff’s claim. However, Rolf presented testimony from his client along with circumstantial evidence in the nature of damage photographs of both vehicles, aerial images of the roadway to establish that the accident did not occur in location or in the manner described by Plaintiff. Instead, Rolf argued that at the time of the accident, his client was all but straightened out, and headed west in the same direction that Plaintiff was traveling. Rolf asserted that the accident occurred when Plaintiff attempted to pass his client on the right and then cut back in front of her in such an aggressive manner that she actually caused the collision. In less than thirty minutes the Jury returned its verdict for the Defendant -“No negligence”.