Congratulations to our Southern New Jersey colleague, Scott Sheldon, Esq., who obtained a defense verdict on behalf of his client who was operating a truck which rear-ended another vehicle operated by the plaintiff. The plaintiff neither owned an insured vehicle nor did she reside with a relative who owned one and, in fact, she had borrowed the vehicle she was driving from a family friend; therefore, the plaintiff’s ability to sue for non-economic damages was unlimited, i.e, a Zero Threshold or No Limitation on Lawsuit matter and she was in a position to recover for any injury proximately caused by the accident. These unusual facts allowed the plaintiff to recovery for damages due to pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, disability, etc., without proving permanency. The damage to the rear of the vehicle the plaintiff occupied was moderate while the damage to the front of the defendant’s truck was significant; the parties stipulated to liability before trial.
The 29 year old plaintiff alleged she suffered a cervical bulge (C5-6), a lumbosacral bulge (L3-4) and herniation (L4-5), all of which were confirmed by MRI, in addition to bilateral carpal tunnel and cervical and lumbar radiculopathy confirmed by EMG and by plaintiff’s medical expert who testified at trial opining the injuries were not only related to the accident, but permanent. Our medical expert confirmed the MRI findings, but testified that there was no evidence the injuries were traumatically induced. He conceded, based upon the history, that the plaintiff sustained temporary strain and sprain injuries, however, his physical exam of the plaintiff, 4 years following the accident, was objectively normal.
On cross examination of the plaintiff, Mr. Sheldon elicited testimony which called into question whether she suffered any injuries as a result of the accident. Accordingly, in closing, Mr. Sheldon contended the plaintiff did not suffer any injury, temporary or permanent, as a result of the accident. Following three days of trial, the jury deliberated for one hour returning a unanimous, 7-0 defense verdict, answering No” to the question: “”Did the plaintiff sustain any injury proximately caused by the subject accident?””