|VIDEO| Shane Read Outlines How Keith Mitnik Reframed Defense Surveillance Video to Win $2.8M Verdict in Crash Case

Posted by Arlin Crisco on Mar 15, 2024 2:19:19 PM

Defense surveillance video can be one of the most difficult pieces of evidence to overcome for a plaintiff’s attorney presenting a damages case. But in the latest episode of Trial Technique Spotlight, Shane Read, one of the nation’s leading trial consultants, details how Keith Mitnik flipped the message on defense surveillance video to win a $2.8 million verdict for a former college soccer player injured in a car crash.

Chantelle Alexander was a 19-year-old soccer player at Miami’s ASA College when the Honda Civic in which she was a passenger was rear-ended by a pickup driven by Alexander Rojas. Alexander claims the crash left her with long-term neck and lower back injuries that require regular pain management treatment. The defense admitted fault for the crash, setting up the 2023 damages trial in the case. 

Critical to the trial, however, was defense surveillance video showing Alexander playing soccer in the season following the collision, used by the defense to undercut Alexander’s injury claims. 

But in his closing argument, Morgan & Morgan’s Mitnik told jurors the key takeaway from the video wasn’t the time Alexander was on the field, but the time she was on the bench. 

“You don’t see this when you see a clip of her in the game, running around, throwing the ball,” Mitnik told jurors as he played a clip of Alexander sitting on the bench, waiting, as the game progressed. “What you don’t see is a star freshman the year before, who was on a full scholarship… who is now an hour into the game, sitting on the bench, before she gets into the game.”

Mitnik said that, while Alexander's injuries were not catastrophic, they nonetheless had a significant impact on her life in a variety of ways, on and off the soccer field. “This case isn’t the kind of injury where she’s sitting in a wheelchair,” Mitnik said. “What she cannot do, is [play soccer] at the level that she did, and the price she paid that cost her the scholarship [the college] took the chance on.”

Watch more of CVN's Trial Technique Spotlight, with Shane Read

In analyzing the closing, Read says Mitnik's approach was a powerful way to blunt the impact of what is typically strong defense evidence.

“I don’t want it to be lost on the defense attorneys that surveillance video is always a really good idea,” Read says. But “what [Mitnik] did here that I thought was so effective was he put it in context.”

Read says Mitnik adeptly flipped the messaging of the video, from Alexander playing soccer, to what she had lost because of the accident: her starting status on the team; her ability to play at as high a level of performance; her scholarship; and even her pride in wanting her mother to watch her at games. 

“He did something very brilliant,” Read says of the approach. “That clip has so many good teaching points.”

And the $2.8 million verdict the Florida jury awarded included $2 million for Alexander’s pain and suffering. 

Read’s analysis is the latest in CVN’s ongoing series, Trial Technique Spotlight, with Shane Read. Read is a nationally recognized trial consultant and award-winning author who has helped thousands of lawyers transform their deposition, trial, and oral advocacy skills through in-house training programs, one-on-one coaching, and keynote speeches. And in each episode of Trial Technique Spotlight, he uses CVN’s courtroom video to detail the techniques the nation’s top attorneys use, and how to best use them in your own cases. 

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