Gregory D. Conforti of Johnson & Bell, Ltd. obtained a not guilty verdict in favor of all defendants, including a waste-removal trucking company and its driver from a jury in Cook County, Illinois.
The plaintiff, a 34-year-old male, had pre-existing paraplegia from a gunshot to the back when he was 15 years old. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant driver pulled out of an alley and t-boned him. With the assistance of accident reconstruction testimony, the defendants were able to argue that the plaintiff had actually side-swiped the front of the truck. The defense began by discrediting the plaintiff’s expert in demonstrating that he was actually disclosed before reviewing any materials relevant to the case and by creating actual simulations from the plaintiff's expert's data that plaintiff failed to show the jury during trial.
The defense leveraged the plaintiff's expert's accident reconstruction data to demonstrate to the jury that the accident simply could not have occurred as described by the plaintiff and the plaintiff's expert. The defense created actual simulations from the data which showed the jury that the accident occurred as described by the defendant driver. The plaintiff used still drawings with their expert and showed no actual simulations, which proved damaging to their expert’s credibility. The photographic evidence of the damage to the plaintiff's van also proved beneficial in this regard.
The plaintiff claimed he sustained neck and back injuries that aggravated his underlying paraplegia. His three treating physicians said there would be some permanent components to his injury, but were unable to specifically outline treatment. The plaintiff's current treating doctor testified at trial that the plaintiff's pain condition was likely permanent and that this could affect his ability to care for himself resulting in the potential need for in home care. Using the medical records, the defense was able to show that the plaintiff had a history of back pain complaints before the accident and that he had actually applied for home health assistance within months of the occurrence. The plaintiff asked for $3.3 million in closing, accounting for a significant claim for future medical and home health assistance ($1.25 million) and future pain and suffering and disability ($2 million). After deliberating for more than five hours, and asking several questions, the jury returned a unanimous "not guilty" verdict in favor of all defendants.