Perrier & Lacoste Obtains Defense Verdict from a Federal Court Jury for National Trucking Company – December 2016
After a week-long trial, the jury took just over one hour to return a unanimous defense verdict in the matter of Alvin Kie, et al v. Tory Williams, et al 3:15-cv-2304 U.S Dist. Court for the Western District of Louisiana. The case was tried by the Perrier & Lacoste litigation team of Guy Perrier and Ralph Aucoin, Jr.
The case involved a liability dispute over a side to side collision at an intersection in Richland Parish, LA. Plaintiff requested $2.2M in damages, which included a recommendation for a multi-level cervical fusion surgery and pain management for life; including epidural steroid injections, facet blocks, and radiofrequency ablation procedures.
Plaintiff testified that he was rear-ended by defendant’s tractor-trailer as he was stopped in his pick-up truck in the left hand lane of the intersection of LA Hwy. 17 and U.S. Hwy. 80, while waiting for oncoming traffic to pass in order to make a left turn onto Hwy. 80. Plaintiff produced three alleged witnesses to support his claims, none of whom stayed on the scene or identified themselves to the investigating officers. The defense was able to discredit Plaintiff’s alleged eyewitnesses by pointing out inconsistencies in their statements as well as their relationship with Plaintiff. Also instrumental in defending this matter was keeping Plaintiff’s guest passenger off the stand. This was accomplished during the pre-trial conference by pointing out that if he was called, the defense would be allowed to cross examine him concerning his bias by asking questions about the lawsuit he filed against the Plaintiff and that he entered into a settlement agreement with Plaintiff’s liability insurer. As a result, Plaintiff’s counsel made the decision not to put his guest passenger on the stand as a fourth eyewitness.
The defendant driver testified that he maintained control of his tractor-trailer in the right hand lane as he traveled through the intersection. Defendants called investigating officer Derick Whitney who arrived on the scene one minute after receiving the call. He obtained a written statement from the Plaintiff in which the Plaintiff wrote that the initial contact was to his passenger side mirror, contradicting his in court testimony of a rear-end collision. The officer photographed the mirror folded in on Plaintiff’s pick-up truck as well as a scrape with scuff marks going forward on the side of Defendant’s tractor. The officer also observed the debris field from the accident in the center of the two lanes and ahead of the white stop line. This allowed Defendants to argue that plaintiff was moving forward at impact and crossed into Defendant’s lane causing the collision.
Plaintiff’s medical testimony was exclusively presented by video testimony, which included Dr. Pierce Nunley, an orthopedic spine surgeon, and Dr. John Ledbetter for pain management. The defense experts were Dr. Donald Smith, a neurosurgeon, and Dr. Curtis Partington, a neuro-radiologist. When Plaintiff was confronted with a work physical he completed approximately four months after the accident denying any injuries, he testified that it was ok to be untruthful on the physical and with the healthcare professional because he did it to benefit his family, but that he would never lie to the court. This testimony further damaged his credibility.
Pre-trial motions helped set up this successful defense. Plaintiff’s numerous social media postings showing him on vacation, at waterparks, and attending concerts and sporting events, were obtained via discovery motions. Improper impeachment evidence concerning expert witnesses was eliminated, expert reports were not introduced into evidence, and Plaintiff’s stipulated to the defense IME expert’s credentials even though they fought pre-trial to prevent him from being retained or accepted by the court. The defense team was even able to elicit testimony from Plaintiff’s wife, who was only presenting a loss of consortium claim, that he had a past history of drug abuse requiring a 28 day stay at an in-patient treatment facility. A pre-trial order was obtained stating that if Plaintiff presented lay testimony concerning his alleged memory loss that never resulted in professional treatment, then Defendants would be allowed to cross-examine that witness concerning whether or not they considered his past history of drug abuse as contributing to his alleged memory issues. In spite of this order, Plaintiff’s counsel asked the wife about her husband’s alleged memory loss, opening the door to Defendants’ follow up questions concerning his history of drug abuse.