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Austin partner Tasha Barnes and associate Ewaen Woghiren obtained a defense verdict in a negligence case in Travis County where the defendant admitted fault. The plaintiff, a part-time actor, filed a negligence suit against Viking Construction, Inc. and its employee, a street sweeper operator, after a street sweeper hit the plaintiff’s parked car at a low speed. The driver of the street sweeper was cleaning the street and did not see Plaintiff’s vehicle as he approached. Hearing the street sweeper, Plaintiff ran to his car to move it and was in the vehicle at time of impact. Plaintiff immediately complained of neck pain and called 911. Plaintiff’s car sustained no visible damage, but in a statement to EMS he said the street sweeper pushed a trash can into the left side of his car. Later, he claimed he was hit head on by the street sweeper, alleging life-long neck and back injuries. (Past medical – $55k and future medical of $362k.)

Defendants argued, at worst, Plaintiff suffered a sprain/strain to his neck which should have resolved in a few months and argued that he had numerous pre-existing, degenerative conditions in his spine that were the cause of his alleged pain. To prove he was better after a few months, Defendants showed the jury a truck commercial featuring Plaintiff apparently saddling and riding a horse which was filmed 4 months after the accident. Plaintiff’s treating physician testified that all his issues were caused solely by the collision, and he sustained a permanent spine injury.  Defendants denied causing any significant injury and argued that Plaintiff was negligent by jumping in the car as the street sweeper approached. After a four day trial, the jury found no negligence on any party including Plaintiff, the driver and Viking Construction, Inc.

The case is styled James Scott Mullins v. Viking Construction, Inc.

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Tasha L. Barnes

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