Jack Moore and Lauren D’Cruz Succeed With “Passing Out” Defense

January 9, 2015

Jack Moore and Lauren D’Cruz recently obtained a defense verdict in a Hennepin County jury trial involving unusual facts. Their client had passed out while driving and caused an accident resulting in serious injuries to the driver of another vehicle. Jack and Lauren called the client’s doctor as a trial witness, who testified that the loss of consciousness was caused by the drug Atenolol, which slows down the heart rate. The client had been taking this drug for several years without a problem, until it caused him to pass out without warning a few moments before the accident. The other driver’s attorney cited the fact that the client had passed out previously due to dehydration, his doctors had warned him to drink enough water to avoid passing out again, on the accident date the client told the ER doctor that he might be dehydrated, and at least one doctor’s note concluded the client was dehydrated on the accident date. The client explained his ER statement at trial by stating that he didn’t know why else he might have passed out, but that he thought he was adequately hydrated at the time of the accident. The jury found that the client wasn’t negligent, following a jury instruction (which Jack and Lauren drafted) that a person isn’t negligent if the accident is caused by a medical emergency which the person couldn’t have reasonably foreseen.