Steve O’Hara Holds on to Favorable Defense Verdict

Steve O’Hara
Mike Regan

Steve O’Hara recently won orders from the trial court denying a plaintiff’s motions for new trial and to set aside a defense verdict. Steve and Michael Reagan won the defense verdict from the jury when the case was tried in Duval County in January.

At an intersection where the plaintiff slowed down or stopped as he was moving through the intersection, our client, the defendant, had rear-ended a ladder protruding from the rear of the plaintiff’s pickup truck. We contended that the plaintiff was comparatively negligent for failing to flag the ladder in compliance with Florida statute. The jury found the plaintiff and the defendant both to be negligent, each in the amount of 50%. The jury awarded the plaintiff past medical expenses in the amount of $8,360 but did not award any damages for non-economic losses because the jury found that the plaintiff did not sustain a permanent injury as a result of the accident.

The plaintiff contended in his post-trial motions that we failed to present evidence sufficient to rebut the presumption of negligence in rear-end collisions. The plaintiff also contended that there was no expert medical testimony presented by the defense to rebut testimony from the plaintiff’s medical experts that he sustained a permanent injury as a result of the accident.

In denying the plaintiff’s post-trial motions, the court noted that there was conflicting evidence regarding whether the ladder was flagged. The court said: “The jury could have reasonably concluded that the plaintiff should have, but did not, attach a red flag to the protruding ladder, and that the failure to do so contributed to the accident occurring.”

The court also rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the defense failed to rebut the plaintiff’s medical testimony that he sustained a permanent injury. The court summarized evidence, other than medical testimony, “from which the jury could reasonably conclude that plaintiff did not sustain a permanent injury.” He had pre-existing degenerative conditions, the crash did not involve a significant impact, the plaintiff delayed seeking treatment, etc.

Congratulations, Steve and Mike.

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