City Admits Liability in Bus Accident but Contests Damages

Earlier this month, an appellate court in Nebraska issued an opinion in a case arising out of a bus accident in which the city government named as the defendant admitted liability but argued that the damages ordered by the court were too high. In the case, Moreno v. City of Gering, the appellate court ultimately determined that the lower court was correct in its ruling, and it affirmed the verdict in favor of the plaintiff.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff, Moreno, was injured in an accident involving a county-owned bus and a city-owned fire truck. Evidently, Moreno was riding on the bus when it was struck by a fire truck being operated by a volunteer fire-fighter. As a result of the collision, Moreno, who had a pre-existing medical condition affecting her back, suffered serious injuries. A few months after the accident, she had a cervical fusion surgery performed.

At the trial, the city and county admitted that they were each liable to Moreno, but they argued that the surgery was not necessary. To support their claim, they pointed to recent news articles that the doctor who had recently performed the surgery performed a record number of similar surgeries. The defendants presented a medical expert who testified that the surgery was unnecessary given Moreno’s injuries, and that the surgeon who performed it was “a criminal.” There was also evidence presented that the surgeon had been suspended due to the number of medical malpractice cases brought against him.

The defendants asked the court to allow them to delay the case until more information could be obtained regarding the doctor’s status and the level of care he provided to his patients. However, the court did not allow the defendants to postpone the trial, claiming that the evidence the defendants sought was solely relevant to the character of the surgeon, and it was not relevant to the matter at issue.

The case continued to trial, and ultimately the judge awarded Moreno roughly $575,000 in damages. The defendants appealed the court’s ruling.

On appeal, the verdict was affirmed. The court looked at the credibility of both witnesses and determined that the lower court was not improper in finding the surgeon credible. The court explained that the defense expert used inflammatory language and seemed biased in favor of the defense. And while there were issues with the surgeon’s testimony as well, the court was free to find him credible, given the quantity and quality of evidence presented.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation based on the other party’s negligence. However, as the case discussed above illustrates, these issues are largely resolved on credibility grounds that are difficult to overcome on appeal. Thus, it is incredibly important that any expert who testifies is well prepared and professional at all times. The skilled attorneys at the Maryland and Washington, D.C. law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen have decades of experience working with experts in all kinds of personal injury cases. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Maryland Court Allows Lead-Based Paint Lawsuit to Proceed on Circumstantial Evidence of Causation, Maryland Accident Law Blog, April 15, 2016.

Personal Injury Cases Based on Environmental Contamination, Maryland Accident Law Blog, April 1, 2016.

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