Trifecta: Newark Trial Team Obtains Third “No Cause” Verdict in Six Months

August 07, 2023

New Jersey Partner Afsha Noran and Managing Partner Colin P. Hackett recently obtained their third “no cause” verdict in six months, this time on behalf of a national restaurant chain and decade-long firm client. 

Newark, N.J. (August 7, 2023) – New Jersey Partner Afsha Noran and Managing Partner Colin P. Hackett recently obtained their third “no cause” verdict in six months, this time on behalf of a national restaurant chain and decade-long firm client. 

Underlying Facts 

The plaintiffs in this matter were a mother and her two adult children. They alleged that the mother – who is now deceased – tripped, fell, and sustained injuries when one of the wheels of her four-wheeled walker became trapped in a cracked sidewalk area adjacent to the client’s restaurant. The incident occurred in July 2019, after the plaintiffs finished their meal and were walking from the restaurant to the handicapped parking spaces.  

The plaintiffs contended that immediately following the incident and the mother’s subsequent two-week hospital and rehabilitation stay, she required 24-hour health care during the last four years of her life. In addition, they alleged that she suffered constant neck pain, back pain, headaches, and depression, and that she rarely, if ever, left her residence. The plaintiffs’ demand was a significant six-figure both before and when trial began. 

The Trial 

Over the course of the five-day trial, the plaintiffs introduced four witnesses – the deceased’s two adult children, a liability expert (professional engineer), and a medical expert (orthopedic surgeon). Lewis Brisbois’ trial team put forth three fact witnesses (one current and two former employees), a liability expert (professional engineer), and a medical expert (orthopedic surgeon). With the exception of the defendant’s medical expert, the defense witnesses rebutted essentially all of the claims and assertions that the plaintiffs presented during their case-in-chief. These included the events that transpired after the deceased’s fall, as well as the actions and statements of the plaintiffs, and those of the defendant’s current and former employees. Moreover, the defendant’s liability expert countered the testimony of the plaintiffs’ liability expert on the general condition of the sidewalk and on the issue of whether the alleged defect in the sidewalk caused the wheel of the plaintiff’s walker to become trapped. 

The Verdict 

After requesting a readback of the entire trial testimony of the daughter who was with her mother at the time she fell, the eight-person jury deliberated for approximately two and a half hours. The jurors then returned a unanimous “no cause” verdict in favor of Lewis Brisbois’ client. In doing so, they determined that the plaintiffs failed to establish that the defendant was negligent with regard to the plaintiff’s fall. 

Discussing the winning streak of Lewis Brisbois’ trial team, Ms. Noran noted, “Our team prepares meticulously for trial, allowing us to put forth the best trial defense possible. We have been fortunate with the defense verdicts we have obtained and clients who trust us to try their cases, rather than settling them for ridiculous demands.” Similarly, Mr. Hackett commented, “I am grateful for this trial team and its efforts. All win streaks come to end, but when this one does, it won’t be due to our team’s effort or skill. Rather, it will simply be the result of the inherent unpredictability of any jury.”  

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.  

Ms. Noran is a member of Lewis Brisbois’ National Trial, General Liability, Products Liability, and Commercial Litigation Practices. She primarily concentrates on premises, products, transportation, and asbestos liability matters.  

Read more about the “no cause” verdicts that Lewis Brisbois’ trial team secured on behalf of a New York City mutual housing association here, and on behalf of a logistics company here. Learn more about Lewis Brisbois’ National Trial Practice here