Newark Litigation Team Obtains “No Cause” Verdict on Behalf of Logistics Company, Tractor Trailer Operator
Newark, N.J. (February 14, 2023) - Newark Managing Partner Colin P. Hackett and Partner Timothy E. Shanley recently secured a “no cause” jury verdict on behalf of a national logistics company and its tractor trailer driver. Mr. Shanley litigated the case from its inception until the trial began, with Mr. Hackett handling the trial.
In this matter, the plaintiff sued the national logistics company and its driver employee following an accident. The plaintiff alleged the tractor trailer driver was negligent when making a wide right turn into a parking lot, resulting in the tractor trailer striking the plaintiff’s vehicle while it was on the inside and to the right of the tractor trailer. The plaintiff, who was 26 years old at the time of the accident, alleged he suffered a lumbar disc herniation and multiple lumbar disc bulges, which required four epidural injections and an ablation surgery. He further contended that these injuries limited his ability to work and perform a variety of daily activities. His demand, which never changed, was in the seven-figure range. The matter proceeded to a six-day trial where nine witnesses – including seven experts – testified.
Accident Reconstruction Experts
During trial, both parties presented accident reconstruction experts whose testimony conflicted regarding which driver caused the accident. On the topic of accident reconstruction, Mr. Hackett relied upon the jurors’ common knowledge of driving in New Jersey – an industrial, small, and densely populated state. He repeatedly emphasized that a driver should never pass a tractor trailer on the inside and to the right. He further maintained that but for the plaintiff choosing to do so, the accident would never have occurred.
The plaintiff presented the anesthesiologist – a pain management specialist – who administered the epidural injections and performed the ablation surgery. During cross-examination, this witness acknowledged that he worked with the plaintiff’s law firm on “between dozens and 150” cases, that he “sure hope[d]” he had been paid well into the six-figure range for the prior engagements, and that he earned more when he administered epidural injections and performed ablation surgeries than when he did not. In addition to the pain management physician, an additional medical expert testified on behalf of the plaintiff, stating that the plaintiff’s injuries existed, that the motor vehicle accident caused them, and that the fees of the treating physician were reasonable, customary, and necessary.
The defense then produced an orthopedist and radiologist who disputed the existence of any disc herniation. They opined that the plaintiff suffered from pre-existing lumbar degenerative disc disease that was unrelated to the motor vehicle accident. The physicians further testified that any pain that the plaintiff experienced resulted from that pre-existing condition.
During the plaintiff’s cross-examination, Mr. Hackett confronted him with his abstract interrogatory responses, deposition testimony, and medical records, which revealed inconsistencies - lies -- in his position. During his closing argument, Mr. Hackett highlighted the false nature of the plaintiff’s trial testimony, arguing that it was not a matter of “falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus (i.e., “false in one thing, false in everything”), but rather “false in many, false in everything.”
After only 19 minutes of deliberating, the jury returned a defense verdict. The jurors concluded that the plaintiff had failed to meet his burden in establishing that Lewis Brisbois’ client was negligent in his operation of the tractor trailer at the time of the accident.
Mr. Hackett is a member of Lewis Brisbois’ National Trial, General Liability, Products Liability, Construction, Transportation, and Asbestos Practices. He has served as first chair in over 60 jury trials involving general liability, transportation, product, environmental contamination, and professional liability claims in state and federal courts.
Mr. Shanley is a member of Lewis Brisbois’ Complex Business & Commercial Litigation and National Trial Practices. He focuses his practice on commercial litigation, including breach of contract, fraud, tortious interference with contract, creditors’ rights, and partnership and membership disputes.
Learn more about our National Trial Practice here.