Defendant Wins Reversal of Ruling After Court Bars Impeachment Evidence
The plaintiff in this case had a pre-existing injury that paralyzed her legs from the knee down. In order to get around in her apartment, she would use a wheelchair, a motorized scooter, or crawl. In the case of the accident, she was on a motorized scooter when the defendant struck her with her car. The plaintiff sued and won in court after a 5-day trial.
The defendant appealed the ruling on the basis that the trial court erred when it struck evidence concerning a right shoulder injury that occurred in 2009, struck evidence concerning the plaintiff’s previous testimony that she did not have any functional impairments from the accident, and struck evidence concerning impeachment testimony concerning the plaintiff’s medical expert.
The appellate court agreed that the trial court erred in striking evidence concerning the medical expert and thus, the case was remanded back to the court for retrial.
The plaintiff was struck by the defendant while on her motorized scooter. She was taken to the hospital and kept for a period of 2 days after which she was released. She was prescribed physical therapy for her recovery, but made limited progress. She was later referred to an orthopedic surgeon. An MRI was eventually ordered on the plaintiff’s shoulder and she was diagnosed with a rotator cuff tear. The plaintiff underwent surgery on the rotator cuff tear and more physical therapy was ordered to strengthen the shoulder. However, the plaintiff continued to have pain in her neck and shoulder. That’s when she filed suit against the defendant.
The plaintiff was later referred to a pain management specialist who prescribed an injection in her shoulder to alleviate the pain.
The plaintiff testified during depositions that she had no previous issues with the shoulder that required surgery. However, the defense uncovered evidence that she did. In 2009, she sustained an injury to her shoulder when moving her wheelchair out of her vehicle. A medical exam revealed mild hypertrophy of the joint. In other words, a rotator cuff strain.
While the defendant admitted negligence in this case, the case proceeded to trial on the issue of damages. The defense wanted to enter evidence concerning the previous rotator cuff strain and evidence against the plaintiff’s expert witness. The defense contended that the severity of the rotator cuff tear was due to a previous injury and not the result of the accident.
The best testimony for the plaintiff was offered by a doctor who had only seen her once. He testified that the rotator cuff tear was wholly related to the traffic accident and not the previous injury. He also testified that the pain related to the left side of her body was the result of overcompensation from not being able to use the right shoulder.
The defense argued that the trial court erred by not introducing impeachment evidence concerning the doctor who provided the plaintiff’s most damning testimony. The verdict in this case was quashed and the case was remanded back to the circuit court for retrial.
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