Smart, targeted interviews
In one case we were hired by plaintiff’s counsel in an accident case. The plaintiff was a woman who was severely injured after she was rear-ended on a rural road by a commercial truck. While there was little doubt about who was at fault in this case, the truck driver claimed he had a medical condition that caused him to suddenly lose consciousness behind the wheel and that the condition was unknown to him until the accident. The driver’s employer, who was also named in the lawsuit, was using the driver’s supposedly-theretofore-unknown medical condition as a defense, essentially claiming there was no way they could have prevented the accident and therefore should not be liable.
We decided that the best way to learn about the driver’s medical history (short of subpoenaing his medical records) was to talk to his ex-wife. Our investigator identified the ex-wife’s home address using an database and drove to her home to speak. Our investigator fully introduced himself to the witness, and she agreed to talk freely about her ex-husband’s medical and driving history.
Impeached with her own statements in our well-documented report, the witness ultimately admitted to everything under oath.
What the truck driver’s ex-wife told our investigator was very surprising: her ex-husband had frequently fallen asleep while driving—including on at least two other occasions while driving his work truck. Further, her ex-husband’s employer certainly knew that he had a problem staying awake at the wheel, as he he was known among his coworkers by a pejorative nickname that directly referred to the fact that he was prone to crashing his truck.
The witness declined to provide a written statement, but the investigator meticulously documented what she told him anyway. When she was later deposed, she tried to back off from some of what she told our investigator. But impeached with her own statements in our well-documented report, she ultimately admitted to everything under oath.
Faced with this damning testimony, the company settled the case, which gave the plaintiff some recompense for the serious injuries she received due to the company’s negligence allowing this truck driver to stay on the road, despite abundant warning signs that he was highly dangerous.