If only jurors knew this

Most Disgusting Interrogatory Question of the Year and answers

millie

Prologue:  This case involves a third trimester pregnant woman who was a passenger in a car.  The car was t-boned by someone else.  The mother was injured and the baby died.  

Interrogatory:

  1. Has any DNA or other test been conducted to establish that X is the father of BABY?  If so, Please identify the facility that performed the test, the date the test was conducted and the results of the test:

Answer:  This counsel has instructed our mourning client parents not to read nor respond to your insulting, rude, and uncivil question.  Unless you have any basis to attack paternity – which would involve our female client engaging in sex outside of the parties’ long standing child producing committed relationship – this question is irrelevant, and propounded for no purpose other than to act indecently in the face of a wrongful death of a baby action.

Request for Production

2.  Please produce any DNA or other paternity testing referenced in the above interrogatory.

Answer:  See answer and objection to interrogatory 1.

3.  Please produce all documents or written materials which you claim evidence X as the father of BABY.

Answer:  See answer and objection to interrogatory 1.

4.  Please produce any affidavit of paternity executed with regard to BABY.

Photo:  Gran puppy Millie Doodette  at Noelle’s house – wishing people would just act nice.

The most obnoxious interrogatories…of the month

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On the next page they demand all emails for the past six months.

Isn’t it ironic that they say “please.”

This ladies and gentlemen, is what your friendly neighborhood defense lawyer will slap you with when you file a lawsuit against (in this case) a governmental entity.

 

How to bite tongue and pound a hammer

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A.  This is the polite way I have to fight defendants who move the court to dismiss my client’s case. (Page 1 of 15).

In a chain reaction freeway collision, both defendants admittedly rear ended the vehicles in front of them.  They claim they are neither negligent nor a proximate cause of injuries to Mr. F who was smashed in between them.

If this collision had been caught on film, the defendants would not have the temerity to bring this motion.  But due to darkness, air bags deploying, and various levels of unconsciousness, the individual participants are not always precise in the retelling of the story.  Thus giving rise to defendant’s misplaced hope that they can avoid responsibility.

The defendants effort should fail for the following two reasons: 1) the facts as perceived by five different witnesses, are clear enough to prove negligence and causation when viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiff; and 2) the expert forensic reconstruction of the collision performed by expert Larry Tompkins fully supports plaintiff’s liability case.

B.  Here is  wishful thinking  of what I’d like to actually tell the court (Page 1 of 1):

This motion is a frivolous waste of time.  The defense filed this because they get paid by the hour and don’t care if time is wasted.  Their actions caused Mr. F’s car to get bashed to holy heck.  Their dumb motion should be thrown out of court.

C.  Here is the letter I sent to the defense counsel after I had to write the formal (polite) motion response.

Cvr Ltr re MSJ Response 9.10.12.pdf

D,  And then what happens?

Well, as of today Sept. 13th, one of the defendants has caved.  If the other one doesn’t drop it, he will be pounded to smithereens at the hearing.

How to (kind of) suffer through leading questions

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There is a school of thought that you should not object during trial.  Just let the bad questions go where they will.   So the jury won’t think you are trying to hide something by objecting.  Maybe so.  Maybe not.

But in a video perpetuation deposition the court rules on the objections ahead of time.  And then the videotape is edited.  The jury isn’t dragged through the technical details.

In this example, the defense lawyer is used to leading his witnesses by the nose through their depositions.  Enter one irritated plaintiff lawyer (moi).  Here is how it starts off.
11   Q    So when you use the term “volitional control,” you
12        mean something that you can verify?
13   A    Correct.
14                MS. KOEHLER:  Object to the form of the
15        question.  Leading.
16   Q    Is that correct, Doctor, that objective refers to
17        something that can be verified?
18   A    It does.
19                MS. KOEHLER:  Same objection.  Double
20        leading.

Now this could go on all day.  Instead, after suffering through a bit more of this, I try to deal with it in one fell swoop:
 9               MS. KOEHLER:  I’m going to — I’m going to
10        object and I’m going to ask for a side bar right now.
11                A, every question you ask is leading.  The
12        reason that I notice this is because all the Doctor is
13        doing is saying “yes.”  There’s no explanation.
14                So I’m trying not to object to every single
15        question that you ask, but everything that you’ve
16        asked is a leading question.  And so I can just make a
17        global objection to all the leading questions that
18        you’re asking, but then you’re not going to be able to
19        cure them if you choose to do so.  So I’m not trying
20        to be difficult, but that’s the clue, is if the Doctor
21        is just saying “yes,” it’s a leading question.  And
22        there’s just, it’s one after the other, after the
23        other, after the other.  So tell me what you want me
24        to do.
25                MR. C:  I want you to make your objection
15
1        to each question if you think it’s objectionable and
2        tell me the basis for it.
3                MS. KOEHLER:  All right.

Sigh.  The defense lawyer wants me to object each and every time.  And I do so.  With nicely rolled eye balls.

Ridiculous defense of an intersection crash case

yieldOnce upon a time, a dude entered an intersection and decided to turn left.  Problem was, there was another car (lawfully) coming on through.  So he crashed into it.  Since the female driver had a green light, anyone who drives a car knows – the dude should have yielded right of way.

Enter the defense lawyer.

I file the complaint.  The defense lawyer says -dude is not at fault.  I bring a motion to kick out the bogus defense.  The lawyer then threatens to ask the judge to sanction me for bringing a “frivolous” motion.   I ask his supervisors to remove him from the case.  They don’t.

This is all part of the insurance company’s plan.  It is called Deny.  Delay.  Defend.   It is also called scorched earth tactics.  Designed to wear us plaintiff lawyers down.  Unless we have DNA that acts in reverse when confronted by adversity.  In which case… Bring.  It.  On.

Here’s the transcript from the hearing.  You will be dazzled by the brilliance and logic of the defense lawyer’s reasoning.  Or maybe not.

MR. SCISCIANI:  Your Honor, Counsel for the

17

1         plaintiff is correct, this is a case about a car accident

2         in which the defendant, Matthew K, my client, was indeed

3         turning left and that’s when the collision occurred.  The

4         scope of undisputed facts, that’s it.  We don’t have any

5         evidence submitted by the plaintiff on Summary Judgment to

6         close the door on contributory fault.  She seeks an order

7         characterizing our client, Matthew K as negligent, and

8         the sole cause of the accident.  She seeks an order

9         characterizing her own behavior as blameless.  What the

10         plaintiff asks for by their Motion for Summary Judgment is

11         provided for in a jury instruction, which underscores the

12         fact that this is a question of fact for the jury.  The

13         jury instruction specifically says, and it is quoted in its

14         entirety on Page 10 of our brief, it says, “Statute

15         provides that a driver intending to turn to the left within

16         an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle

17         approaching from the opposite direction that is within the

18         intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an

19         immediate hazard.”  This right-of-way, however, is not

20         absolute but relative.  And if we look at Washington case

21         law —

22                       MS. KOEHLER:  Your Honor, I ask that he

23         complete reading that.

24                       MR. SCISCIANI:  I’d be happy to.  The entire

25         jury instruction is submitted in our brief:  “And the duty

 

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1         to exercise ordinary care to avoid collisions at

2         intersections rests on both drivers.  The primary duty,

3         however, rests upon the driver turning to the left, which

4         must be performed with reasonable regard to the maintenance

5         of a fair margin of safety at all times.”

6                 If we look at the case law, even the cases relied

7         upon by the plaintiff, there’s cases — there are cases out

8         there, there’s one in particular, the case that we cited in

9         our opposition, that involves a pedestrian who was lawfully

10         in a crosswalk with the walk signal.  The question of

11         whether that pedestrian should have looked to see if there

12         was traffic that was not going to yield was submitted to

13         the jury.  The court underscored the fact that those issues

14         are questions of fact, they’re provided for in the jury

15         instructions, and certainly in this case we recognize that

16         our client had the obligation to yield right-of-way.  The

17         question, then, is, did the plaintiff have an

18         opportunity — we’ve all been cut off at intersections.  We

19         can’t just steamroll through and plow into the left turning

20         vehicle, get out of our vehicle and blame it.  It’s not

21         strict liability.  The oncoming driver has an obligation.

22         If the jury finds that she had an opportunity to avoid this

23         collision, then there’s contributory negligence.  Now, it

24         may be a 90-10, it may be an 80-20, may be 70-30, may be

25         95-5.

 

19

1                 The point is, on summary judgment without any

2         evidence submitted by the plaintiff on the issue of

3         contributory fault, the door stays open.  The record is

4         devoid of evidence that she took evasive action.  As the

5         moving party on Summary Judgment, seeking to close the door

6         on contributory fault, and to seek an order from this court

7         as a matter of law that her behavior, her driving was

8         lawful and blameless, she has to come forward with the

9         evidence to merit such a characterization.  There’s no

10         evidence — I’ve already read before the court the

11         statement from the witness that the vehicles collided.

12         They shed no light on evasive action.  In fact, it’s devoid

13         of any evidence that Ms. L swerved or braked.  From

14         the photographs, it could be reasonably deduced that these

15         cars would not have collided, notwithstanding my client’s

16         failure to yield had some evasive action been taken.

17                 Now I’m not going to purport to be an accident

18         reconstructionist, and I’m not going to purport to have

19         been there at the accident to characterize what exactly

20         happened.  That’s for the witnesses, that’s for the jury.

21         That’s all I have, Your Honor.

22                       THE COURT:  Counsel?

23                       MS. KOEHLER:  Your Honor, did you see the

24         photographs of the vehicles? [head on impact]

25                       THE COURT:  Yes.

 

20

1                       MS. KOEHLER:  The defendant has, on a

2         comparative fault claim, which is an affirmative defense, the

3         burden of proof . There is no attempt other than speculation to say

4         that this person, Miss L, going through a green ball

5         on a green light behind another vehicle did anything wrong.

6         For this reason, we believe that Summary Judgment on these

7         facts should be granted.

8                       THE COURT:  All right.  Partial Summary

9         Judgment is granted on liability.

10                       MS. KOEHLER:  Thank you, Your Honor.

 

Diagram:  By the defendant in his deposition.


Check out a recent interview by Super Lawyers about my blog. Yes, I'm a lawyer. But I'm also a human being. I have a doggie named Nala, three daughters, eat brown sugar cinnamon pop tarts for breakfast, and wear jeans as often as possible when not in court.
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