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Featured Trial Report

  

Caption:                            Torrence v. Gamble
Court:                                  Clark County Circuit Court #2
Cause Number:            10C02-1505-CT-68
Presiding Judge:         Magistrate Judge William A. Dawkins
Insurer:                             State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company
Damages Awarded:   Defense verdict
Incurred Medicals:   None submitted to jury
Damages Sought:         $150,000
Trial Attorneys:            Rodney L. Scott and Carli A. Clowers
Synopsis: 
Our client, Courtney Gamble, was travelling southbound on Allison Lane in Jeffersonville, Indiana, approaching the Middle Road intersection.  She was travelling behind the Plaintiff, Latoya Torrence, who had stopped on Allison Lane to turn left into the Jeffersonville Fire Department.  Torrence’s testimony was that she had her left turn signal illuminated prior to impact. Ms. Gamble, on the other hand, testified that Torrence did not have her left turn signal on, which prevented her from realizing Torrence was stopped.  As a result, Gamble’s vehicle rear-ended Torrence’s vehicle.
Torrence claimed that the rear-end accident caused her neck pain and low back pain which necessitated months of treatments resulting in pain and suffering, activity limitations and permanent injuries.
At trial, Torrence did not offer any medical records or bills into evidence.  Instead, she relied on the testimony of an IME physician, Dr. Mark Barrett, hired by Plaintiff’s attorney.  He testified about her treatment, injuries, and permanent impairment. 
During trial, we defended the case both on the issues of liability and causation but primarily on the theory that Plaintiff could not meet her burden of proof.  First, we argued that Torrence’s failure to illuminate her left turn signal caused and/or contributed to the accident.  Second, we relied on Torrence’s pre- and post-accident records to relate her alleged injuries to a fall down stairs at her apartment years before the accident.  Additionally, a post-accident ER record indicated a treatment history for back pain since about the time of the fall – not the automobile accident.  
We did not hire an IME or other medical expert to rebut the testimony of Dr. Mark Barrett.  Instead, we relied on cross-examination to point out that Dr. Barrett did not see Torrence until July, 2015 – approximately two years after the accident – and that his opinions were based almost exclusively on her own account of her symptoms and the partial records provided by Plaintiff’s counsel to him.  Dr. Barrett was forced to acknowledge that Torrence’s 2015 ER record reported five years of back pain and that the time-frame corresponded not with the accident, but with Torrence’s 2010 fall.  Finally, Dr. Barrett admitted that, unlike Torrence’s account of her pre-accident history to ER physicians in 2015 which was made to obtain treatment, her account to Dr. Barrett that she had no such pre-accident back pain was made during an IME paid for by her attorney in the context of litigation.
At the close of the evidence, Torrence asked the jury to hold Gamble liable and award her $150,000 in damages for pain and suffering.  In our closing argument, we reminded jurors that Torrence, as the claimant, bore the burdens of proof.  She had to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that our client caused the accident, and she had to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that this accident (and not her 2010 fall or some other accident or illness) caused her alleged injuries. 
After a couple of hours of deliberations, jurors ultimately agreed that Torrence did not meet her burden(s) of proof. They returned a defense verdict for Gamble.  
Paralegal Mallery Waters provided valuable assistance with evidence and pre-trial preparations.
Post-Verdict:
Torrence subsequently filed a Motion to Correct Error, which the Court denied without a hearing. 
We then filed a Verified Motion for fees and costs pursuant to Indiana’s qualified settlement offer statute.  Specifically, if a jury returns a verdict for less than the qualified offer of a party, then the prevailing party is entitled to reimbursement of up to$1,000 in attorney’s fees incurred after the offer is made. Torrence objected to the motion.  Ultimately, the Court agreed that we were entitled to attorney’s fees per the terms of the statute, and granted our motion.
Torrence recently filed a Notice of Appeal to appeal the jury’s verdict. 

  

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