Friday, November 20, 2020

Interesting Issues in Postal Truck Accident Case

In the case of Diawara v. United States, No. 18-3520 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 22, 2020 Pratter, J.), the court addressed various notable issues in a motor vehicle accident case involving a postal truck and the application of the Federal Tort Claims Act. In this decision, the court was addressing several pre-trial Motions In Limine. 

Of note, the court ruled that a prior Social Security Administration determination of the Plaintiff’s total disability did not serve to collaterally estop the government Defendant from arguing against the Plaintiff’s allegations of total disability. 

The court also noted that the determination by the Social Security Administration on the Plaintiff’s total disability could not be admitted into evidence by the Plaintiff as the Social Security Administration had utilized different standards and did not involve any adversarial proceedings. More specifically, the court rejected the Plaintiff’s Motion to Preclude the government from arguing that the Plaintiff was not disabled. The Plaintiff presented this motion in light of the fact that there was a Social Security Administration determination of full disability. The court found that the principles of collateral estoppel did not preclude the government from making an argument at this trial contrary to the determination by the Social Security Administration. 

The court additionally granted the Motion to Preclude the Social Security Administration Disability determination from coming into evidence after finding that the Social Security Administration had utilized different standards to reach that determination. The court also found that admitting that determination into evidence could cause confusion and possibly delay the trial.

It was held that the Plaintiff could still seek to admit the underlying evidence that was submitted to the Social Security Administration in support of an argument of a total disability as a result of the accident. 

The court additionally noted that the government Defendant could use the Social Security Administration determination to later offset any lost wages awarded in this matter. 

In another notable decision in this case, the court denied the Plaintiff’s motion to exclude one of the government Defendant’s medical expert’s testimony as being contradictory and cumulative of another government medical expert’s testimony. The court found that there was no error in the government’s decision to have an orthopedic surgeon opine as to the Plaintiff’s shoulder injuries and to have a neurologist, whose testimony of the Plaintiff sought to exclude, offer opinions on the Plaintiff’s alleged neurological injuries even though an orthopedic surgeon could be qualified to make neurological assessments as well. 

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Nov. 10, 2020).

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