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Miller v. Keystone Freight Corporation

December 5, 2008

Attorney Joseph Longo, an associate at Zarwin Baum DeVito Kaplan Schaer Toddy P.C., was victorious in defending a lawsuit against Keystone Freight Corporation, a trucking company. In Miller v. Keystone Freight Corporation, Plaintiff, Justin Miller, filed suit against Defendants Zoubeirou Soumana and Keystone Freight Corporation in Northampton County, Pennsylvania.

The facts as alleged by Miller were that on September 21, 2004, Miller, 25 years old, was the operator of a Suzuki Motorcycle on the southbound lane of Van Buren Road at the intersection of Newlins Mill Road in Palmer Township, Northampton County when Soumana who was operating a Volvo truck, owned by Defendant, Keystone Freight Corporation, in the southbound lane of Van Buren Road backed up the truck and hit Miller’s motorcycle. There was an independent witness who confirmed Miller’s version of the incident. Miller alleged that Soumana negligently operated his vehicle and is responsible for this accident. Miller also asserted a claim for negligent entrustment against Keystone Freight Corporation which was withdrawn at the time of trial. Since Soumana was not able to be located, Mr. Longo had no choice but to stipulate to the negligence of our truck driver.

DESCRIPTION OF INJURIES OR OTHER DAMAGES

As a result of the accident, Miller injured his leg and was taken to the emergency room where he was diagnosed with a sprained hamstring, a bruise on his right leg, and a cut to his left pinky finger. Miller testified that as he lay on the ground after the accident, he was so scared, and extremely nervous as he thought that the truck was going to crush him to death. After discharge from the emergency room, Miller did not seek any further medical treatment in connection with the accident. However, Miller alleged that he still suffers from severe emotional distress as a result of the accident as he still carries with him the memory of this near death experience.

The defense argued that Miller’s injuries were de minimus only and that Miller cannot establish that he suffered any emotional distress from this accident. Specifically, the defense argued that there was no objective evidence that Miller was in a state of heightened state of anxiety after the accident. In fact, Miller was actually very calm and stable at the scene of the accident. To support this allegation, Mr. Longo impeached Miller with the paramedic’s report wherein it showed that Miller’s vital signs were all within normal limits. Also, the defense brought out the fact that Miller did not seek any counseling, or psychological treatment for his alleged fear and anxiety. Further, the defense argued that Miller suffered only a bruise on his leg and a cut on his pinky finger from the accident and that was it. Mr. Longo argued that Miller’s injuries were deemed so insignificant at the emergency room that he underwent no x rays and was treated and released in about 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Further, the defense argued that Miller’s life had not been affected at all since the accident as Miller completed his schooling and missed no time from work. Miller even admitted that he purchased a motorcycle after the accident although Miller denied riding it as often as he had since the accident. Most interestingly, Mr. Longo impeached Miller with a report from an urologist whom Miller saw about four (4) years after the accident. Miller complained to the urologist of pain to his testicles which Miller believed occurred as a result of the accident. The urologist ultimately concluded that Miller’s pain was not related to the accident. More importantly, though, Miller completed an initial evaluation form at the time of his initial visit wherein Miller denied ever experiencing any fear, anxiety or emotional distress in the past.

Lastly, Mr. Longo brought out Miller’s prior accident, which occurred about two years before this accident, wherein Miller fractured his leg. Mr. Longo had Miller admit that after this accident, Miller not only continued to drive a car, but also drove a motorcycle.

The jury was able to compile and consider all of the evidence and reach a decision that appealed to their common sense. The jury did not believe Miller’s testimony with regard to the emotional distress that he suffered as a result of the accident. Instead, the jury awarded Miller $702.00, which represented the amount of Miller’s medical bills. The jury did not award Miller any money for his alleged pain and suffering due to the emotional distress he allegedly suffered from the accident.


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