Case details

Defense: Social media posts showed no post-crash changes





Result type

Not present

back, neck, pain
On March, 18 2014, plaintiff Tisha Crumble, a local bank manager, was operating her Land Rover on Los Altos Avenue, in Fresno, with her teenage children, plaintiffs Kennedy Crumble and Christian Crumble. Kennedy was seated in the front passenger while Christian was seated behind her. As Ms. Crumble was driving her children to their high school, their vehicle was broadsided by a Jeep operated by Alicia Porras, who was backing out of her residence’s driveway. (Alicia went to the same high school as Christian and Kennedy.) The Crumbles each claimed to their neck and back. Ms. Crumble, Christian and Kennedy sued Alicia, alleging that Alicia was negligent in the operation of her vehicle. The Crumbles all admitted that they did not know the collision was about to happen until they saw a flash from the corner of their eyes. They contended that Alicia was negligent for failing to yield to vehicles on the street. Defense counsel contended that the Crumbles had visibility of Alicia’s driveway and vehicle before the crash and that the Crumbles had already passed six houses (with clear visibility of Alicia’s house) before their vehicle came be in front of Alicia’s driveway. Thus, counsel argued that the Crumbles should have seen Alicia’s vehicle, as Alicia had entered her vehicle from inside the garage, opened the garage door, backed out of her driveway, and was entering the roadway when the collision occurred. Defense counsel also argued that since the Crumbles admitted that they did not see Alicia’s vehicle, they must have been inattentive. In addition, counsel argued that the Crumble vehicle must have been traveling over the residential 25-mph speed limit, as the Crumble vehicle was measured to have come to rest 100 feet past Alicia’s residence following the collision. However, Alicia admitted that she had not seen the Crumble vehicle prior to impact either., The Crumbles each claimed soft tissue to their neck and back, including whiplash and sprains and strains. No police were called to the scene and no emergency vehicles responded. The Crumbles also did not seek any emergency room or urgent care that day, but they all began chiropractic treatment the following day. Ms. Crumble and her daughter, Kennedy, treated with a chiropractor until July 23, 2014. Ms. Crumble’s son, Christian, treated with a chiropractor until October 2014. Christian claimed that he required more treatment because he was seated at the point of impact. The plaintiffs’ treating chiropractor opined that the Crumbles had suffered soft tissue in the collision and testified that if they had a whiplash injury, their spine in that area would be curved. The Crumbles claimed that despite undergoing chiropractic treatment, they each still have ongoing pain to their neck and back. Specifically, Christian and Kennedy claimed that their spinal pain caused them to miss school, resulting in plummeting grades, and the loss of academic and athletic scholarships. Thus, Ms. Crumble sought recovery of $49,043 in past medical costs and unspecified amount of damages for her past and future pain and suffering. Kennedy sought recovery of $35,070 in past medical costs and unspecified amount of damages for her past and future pain and suffering. Christian sought recovery of $35,042 in past medical costs and unspecified amount of damages for his past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel disputed the Crumbles’ alleged and even where Ms. Crumble’s children were located within the vehicle at the time of impact. Alicia testified that Ms. Crumble had remarked after the collision that it was a good thing neither child was seated on the (right) side of the vehicle where the impact occurred. Defense counsel attempted to impeach Christian’s and Kennedy’s claims that their alleged pain caused them to have plummeting grades, and loss of academic and athletic scholarships. Counsel contended that school records proved that neither child missed nearly the amount of school alleged; that there was no real change in either Christian’s or Kennedy’s grades; that Christian would not have qualified for either an academic nor an athletic scholarship based on his poor grades, which were sometimes as low as a .08 during the semesters preceding the accident; and that Kennedy had actually skipped a grade following the collision. Defense counsel also attempted to impeach Ms. Crumble and Christian through their own social media posts. Counsel argued that the social media posts from Ms. Crumble and Christian both showed that although they claimed the accident injured them, they were active and willing to exaggerate their complaints for profit. For example, on cross-examination, Christian testified that he would not exaggerate his for profit, that he would not even insinuate that he would exaggerate his claims for profit, and that he never posted anything on social media to that effect. However, defense counsel presented Christian’s Oct. 30, 2015 Tumblr post, which showed a picture of a black man being pushed in a wheelchair while wearing a leopard-print neck brace and eating cookies with the caption, “Me, if a millionaire taps me with their car.” Defense counsel then asked Christian if he had ever asked someone to hit him with their car, for which he replied “No.” Christian also confirmed that he would never post anything asking someone to hit him with their car. However, defense counsel presented another post from Christian stating, “I’ll pay someone to hit me with their car.” After being confronted by the posts, Christian laughed each one off saying he was “only joking” or that the post was “an inside joke.” Defense counsel also attempted to impeach Ms. Crumble by using her own social media posts. For example, Ms. Crumble testified that she could not recall if she was able to work out in the six to eight months after the accident and that she could not recall if she was able to work up a decent sweat within those six to eight months. Defense counsel then presented a comment Ms. Crumble made on someone else’s Facebook post on Sept. 16, 2014, in which she wrote, “Get it girl! Just worked out, my hair is soaking wet! Lol.” In addition, defense counsel presented to the jury a post by Christian just a week or two after the accident, wherein Christian was inviting everyone over for a house party, and posts by Christian proving that both he and his mom were “at the club” by June 26, 2016. In addition, defense counsel argued that although there were over 41,000 social media posts from Christian, alone, since the time of the accident, there was nothing about the accident, or any or ongoing complaints from the collision. Counsel further argued that although the plaintiffs’ treating chiropractor testified that if the Crumbles had a whiplash injury, their spine in that area would be curved, without comparison X-rays, the chiropractor could not prove whether the Crumbles’ spines were curved or not. Thus, defense counsel argued that the Crumbles were not injured, as they claimed. According to defense counsel, after the Crumbles were impeached, they abandoned and downplayed their alleged ongoing complaints since the collision.
Superior Court of Fresno County, Fresno, CA

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