Pretrial Motions Can Often Make or Break A Case, As It Sets the Pathway to Recovery for Plaintiff
Docket No.: A-3336-18
Decided April 13, 2021
Submitted by New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
In a recent unpublished decision, the Appellate Division reviewed a trial court’s evidentiary rulings in a tractor trailer crash in which the Court found no cause for Plaintiff, dismissing the complaint with no recovery.
In Hassan, Plaintiff Ahmed Hassan appeals from a no-cause judgment in his motor vehicle negligence suit.1 Defendant Roland Williams rear-ended Hassan. Hassan was driving a FedEx tractor-trailer, and Williams was driving a tractor trailer for defendant ABF Freight System. The truckers collided on Route 78 near Clinton. It was around 4:00 a.m. on a June morning. Hassan was driving his normal route from Newark Airport to Allentown, Pennsylvania. Suddenly, he felt himself “on the ramp, on the side of the road, and hitting like I don’t know if it was trees, brushes, whatever.”
A police report stated that the FedEx truck snapped a light pole, not a tree, and blocked westbound traffic when it came to rest. Williams said his truck was on cruise control, and set at the truck’s preset top speed of 62 m.p.h. Williams said, “[A]ll of a sudden, out of nowhere I come up on this Fed-Ex truck.” As he rapidly approached Hassan’s truck, Williams’s instinct was to change lanes. But, he looked in his side mirror, and saw a car. He then looked ahead, and slammed on his brakes before striking Hassan’s tractor trailer in the rear.
A jury found that both parties were negligent, with 51% liability placed on Hassan, causing the court to find a no cause and dismiss plaintiff’s complaint. Plaintiff appealed several pretrial evidentiary rulings.
The Appellate Division reversed, finding that the trial court mischaracterized expert statements as concluding the “ultimate issue” and thus erroneously excluded the statements. Plaintiff also sought to introduce Defendant’s statement to his employer regarding the reason to his termination of employment, which was because he collided in the rear of plaintiff’s vehicle. The trial court excluded this, but the Appellate Division found this should have been admitted, as it was Defendant’s own statement. The Appellate Division affirmed the exclusion of Defendant’s termination, as a subsequent remedial measure that is not admissible.
This case is important for all personal injury plaintiffs. Pretrial motions can often make or break a case, as it sets the pathway to recovery for Plaintiff. Pretrial motions includes limiting or barring expert testimony, admitting or excluding certain statements or pieces of evidence, and allowing certain witnesses and denying others. An experienced attorney will be able to prepare your case appropriately and file necessary pretrial motions to ensure you have the best result if your matter were to go to trial.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a slip and fall, motor vehicle accident, truck crash, wrongful death, or other premises related injury, you need to make sure you contact a personal injury attorney with experience today. Failing to consider these issues could result in your case be dismissed permanently. Do not hesitate to contact Hark & Hark today to discuss your personal injury.
For personal injury matters, you pay nothing upfront, and our fee is paid as a percentage of your recovery. At Hark & Hark, we represent clients for any case in any county in New Jersey including Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Mercer, Ocean, and Salem counties. We represent clients in all towns in New Jersey, including Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, Elizabeth, Edison, Woodbridge, Lakewood, Toms River, Hamilton, Trenton, Clifton, Camden, Brick, Cherry Hill, Passaic, Middletown, Union City, Old Bridge, Gloucester Township, East Orange, Bayonne, Franklin Township, North Bergen, Vineland, and Union.