In the next week or so, I will be posting the three day bench trial transcript of a recent slip and fall trial I had. It should be on my website. This is a slip and fall case which occurred at a TSA checkpoint at PHL resulting in my client fracturing her knee and requiring surgery. Since both TSA and the City of Philadelphia are public entities and the trial is a public event, the transcript is readily available and for public consumption. We still have to wait for the judge’s decision on the case. But, if you want to see an entire trial from start to finish with openings, closings, experts etc. it is there for your review. Fillmore v. United States.
As litigating lawyers, we all have highlights and lowlights of our trial and deposition work. One of my recent favorites came following a discussion with a more senior lawyer. The defense expert in the above case asserted that my client whose knee is filled with surgical hardware, has a long scar on the outside of her knee, and will have permanent trouble walking up stairs had reached “maximum medical improvement (MMI).” Now, for the non-lawyers, this sounds like the client is doing grrrrrrrrreat! I had not encountered this situation in an actual trial where a defense expert was saying these words because MMI, as a term of art is usually reserved for workers compensation cases and I do not do that. So, the following cross examination developed:
Mr. Neuwirth: I don’t want to make light of the situation, but if a person has their arm torn off in a machine in a factory and they come to you with a fully healed arm that’s amputated at their elbow, that person may would have reached maximum medical improvement in your opinion and still be missing their arm, correct?
The Court: Overruled.
The Witness: Yes.
This was worth a chuckle and highlighted for the judge, who may or may not be experienced in the term MMI, that it really signifies that the person has healed but is not going to get back to their prior level of functioning. We all have scintillating successes and plenty of errors along the way. It is just the nature of trial work. It is a bit of a high wire act and knowing where to apply pressure and where to back off.
Anyway, have a wonderful Holiday season and a Happy New Year.