Alexandra Bowen Higgins delivers her opening statement on behalf of Mark Schlosberg, who is accused of responsibility for an accident that injured Joseph Reboulet's neck and led to his spinal fusion.
Marietta, GA—Attorneys Monday sparred over the cause of a 2013 crash and the persistent pain that led to a Georgia architect’s cervical spinal fusion, as trial opened in his suit against the driver that rear-ended him. Reboulet v. Schlosberg, 14-A-3421-3.
Mark Schlosberg struck Joseph Reboulet's vehicle from behind as Reboulet stopped in a line of traffic behind a car waiting to turn from a travel lane rather than an available turn lane. Reboulet, an Atlanta-area architect, claims he suffered neck injuries so severe he had to undergo a spinal fusion that did not completely resolve his nerve pain.
Reboulet claims Schlosberg caused the accident and is responsible for his damages, including more than $200,000 in medical bills to date, according to court records.
However, Schlosberg’s attorney, Alexandra Higgins, told jurors Monday the crash’s true culprit was the unidentified driver who stopped in the left travel lane, and not her client. “If this vehicle used the required turn lane, this accident never happens, ladies and gentlemen,” Higgins said. “The cars keep going, it’s 45 miles-per-hour, there’s no expectation of stopping, there’s no reason to be braking. The traffic flows with 8 o’clock traffic, and we’re not here today.”
Beyond fault, Higgins argued Reboulet’s neck problems and persistent pain are caused by a long history of medical issues, including degenerative disc disease and unchecked diabetes, which Higgins said could manifest itself in pain similar to what Reboulet complained of. “We’re not contending that he doesn’t have the [medical] condition. He has those conditions,” Higgins said. “What we’re saying is this accident didn’t cause those conditions. It didn’t.”
But Reboulet’s attorney, Fried Rogers Goldberg’s Eric Rogers, argued evidence showed Reboulet hadn't experienced any neck or nerve pain in the nearly 10 years before the crash. Rogers said Reboulet had undergone annual physicals from 2007 onward and showed no sign of back or nerve pain. “They would evaluate him and they’d say ’How’s your neck?’ and ‘Let’s check you from head to toe,’” Rogers told jurors. “And there [are] questions [medical staff asked Reboulet]: ‘Any numbness of tingling in your arms?’ No. ‘Any neck pain?’ No.”
Rogers noted that Schlosberg was the only driver who struck another vehicle in the five-vehicle line of stopped traffic when the crash occurred, and he criticized the defense for what he termed a “kitchen sink” strategy. “[The strategy] is to present to you every single possible defense, including the kitchen sink, in hopes something sticks,” Rogers said.
The case is expected to go to the jury on Wednesday.
Joseph Reboulet is represented by Fried Rogers Goldberg's Michael Goldberg and Eric Rogers.
Mark Schlosberg is represented by Alexandra Bowen Higgins.
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