(Plaintiff) v. LACMTA

Plaintiff, a 78 year-old woman, sideswiped the left rear bumper of a bus on a busy Los Angeles street. She claimed that the bus operator pulled out from the curb into her path. She produced a witness, a paralegal who worked in the neighborhood who was walking to lunch, who supported her account of the accident. This witness gave a statement in which she said that just before the accident, she saw passengers getting on the bus before it pulled out into traffic and the collision occurred. The bus operator, on the other hand, claimed that his bus was stopped because of traffic ahead of him in “slow lane” at the time of the collision. The scene and bus photographs taken immediately after the accident were not particularly helpful in demonstrating exactly where the collision occurred. A visit to the accident scene a year after the accident allowed Ed to match existing spider web-like cracks in the pavement to the scene photographs so as to reveal exactly where the bus was sitting after the accident in relation to the bus stop. These photographs proved that the bus stop was actually more than a hundred feet beyond the point of impact, thereby destroying the witness’ credibility, and insuring that the bus operator’s testimony that his vehicle was sitting idle in the “slow lane” at the time of the accident would be believed. Beyond this, Ed’s close scruntiny of plaintiff’s medical records revealed a minor entry in plaintiff’s cardiovascular surgeon’s records a week after the accident that was totally inconsistent with the notes a day later regarding her physical examination and claim of injury in the records of the medical practitioner who treated plaintiff after the accident. Ed took a very aggressive approach, recommending that plaintiff be offered nothing other than a waiver of costs in exchange for a dismissal, but without revealing to plaintiff’s attorney the exact nature of the impeachment regarding the investigation of the accident scene and plaintiff’s treatment records. Plaintiff’s attorney refused to dismiss the case, apparently assuming that “they’ll pay something.” In the final few days before trial, Ed recommended and the claims representative agreed that plaintiff’s attorney be given a 48-hour ultimatum to dismiss the case in exchange for a waiver of costs, and that after that, costs would not be waived no matter what happened later. Plaintiff dismissed the case.

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