Moreno v. City of Gering – $575k Accident Verdict Affirmed

In a significant number of car accident lawsuits, testimony from medical experts is required to establish the extent of damages suffered by victims. bus

The trustworthiness of those witnesses is important, of course, but defendants will take any opportunity to challenge the assertion that plaintiff’s injuries were as severe as claimed or required the extent of treatment they received.

In the recent case of Moreno v. City of Gering, two defendants conceded liability for an accident that involved their employees. However, they disputed the extent of plaintiff’s injuries and the type of surgery she underwent as a result of those injuries.

According to records from the Nebraska Supreme Court, plaintiff was a passenger in a mini-bus operated by the county when the bus was struck by a van operated by a member of the city’s volunteer fire department. 

Plaintiff was ejected from the bus, landing on the pavement. She was thereafter transported to a local hospital for treatment.

When plaintiff later filed a personal injury lawsuit seeking damages against both entities, they conceded to being liable for the crash. That is usually the first half of the battle in any crash case, and it makes it much easier when that isn’t a point of contention. But there was still the matter of damages, and that is the issue upon which the case went to trial.

A major contested issue here was that plaintiff had undergone a cervical fusion surgery after the crash. This was performed by a surgeon who later came under fire in the local media about six months after the crash for performing an unusually high number of cervical fusion surgeries that, by some accounts, were not necessary and potentially dangerous. A number of medical malpractice lawsuits had been filed against that doctor for this reason.

Upon learning this information, defendants in this car accident case sought from the court through the discovery process records that would show how many similar surgeries this doctor performed and communications to that doctor regarding those surgeries. Plaintiff didn’t object, but the hospital did. Ultimately, the court sustained these objections, finding the news reports that detailed the other cases were hearsay and that the records defense sought were not relevant to this particular case. They were related to non-party patients and were to be used only as character evidence against the doctor and his alleged tendency to perform unnecessary surgeries. The court further said that even without these non-party records, defendants would still be able to introduce evidence pertaining to whether the surgery on this particular plaintiff was necessary.

The case later went to trial and a judgment was entered in plaintiff’s favor for the amount of $575,203. This was after the surgeon in question testified plaintiff’s injuries were the result of a pre-existing condition that was severely aggravated by the crash.

Defendants appealed, arguing the trial court was wrong to deny the motions to compel based on the hearsay objection, the relevancy objection and the findings that plaintiff’s injury was caused by the accident.

The state supreme court affirmed, finding no error.

Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

Moreno v. City of Gering, April 15, 2016, Nebraska Supreme Court

More Blog Entries:

$32M to Family of Woman Killed in Storefront Crash, April 6, 2016, Spartanburg Injury Lawyer Blog

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