A $3 million damage award in a lawsuit over a “fender bender” has been thrown out by the state Court of Appeals.
A Bolivar County jury in 2003 awarded Martha Ireland $3 million in damages based on Ireland’s claim that she suffered post-traumatic stress from the automobile accident.
The Appeals Court, in tossing out the verdict, said Ireland didn’t produce any evidence showing any psychological injury “stemming from a minor automobile accident, which even Ireland’s witness … termed ‘a fender-bender,”‘ wrote Appeals Judge William H. Myers.
“The testimony of all the expert witnesses has been tainted by Ireland’s repeated lies and therefore their testimony was inaccurate,” Myers said.
There were no property damage claims in the case, Myers said.
The case was before the Appeals Court for the second time. In 2000, the Appeals Court ordered a new trial after a Bolivar County jury returned a $1 million verdict against Roy Gilbert.
The $3 million award came after another trial.
The accident occurred in 1993 when vehicles driven by Gilbert and Ireland collided on Mississippi 1 south of Benoit. According to the court record, Ireland was treated and released from a Cleveland hospital but returned complaining of back pain.
According to court documents, Ireland testified that she told a doctor that she was socially isolated, and her academic performance was impaired by post-traumatic stress stemming from the automobile accident.
Myers said evidence in the trial indicated that Ireland’s grades were better after the accident than before and Gilbert introduced evidence showing Ireland had visited the Lighthouse Point Casinos 89 times since 1998, including a visit nine days before trial.
Myers said the doctor relied on Ireland’s misleading information in reaching his expert opinion that Ireland suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome. He said doctor’s opinion should not have been allowed as evidence.
“The record is devoid of any medical testimony or documents that could shed light on whether before the accident Ireland had a psychological condition blurring fantasy with reality,” Myers wrote.
“Consequently, the record fails to contain any information that could tend to show Ireland suffered any psychological injury stemming from the accident, aside from her verbal representations, which even her expert witness stated were not factually accurate,” he wrote.