Court overturns trial judge's decision that woman with back and neck problems did not suffer a serious impairment
In Stapleton v. Auto Club Insurance Association, the trial judge summarily dismissed a claim by the plaintiff against the motorist who rear-ended the car in which she was a passenger. Although the woman presented the testimony of several treaters and documented a number of objective symptoms, the Court held that here medical problems were not objectively manifested or a "serious impairment" of her normal lifestyle. The higher court pointed to the medical documentation of Stapleton's injury and to the Court's decision not to consider her deposition testimony. It held that she had presented sufficient testimony to create a genuine issue of material fact with regard to serious impairment. It emphasized that a serious impairment decision by necessity requires a comparison of the injury victim's life before and after the injury: Stapleton had played tennis with her daughter and jogged; now she could not. She missed three months of work and struggled to perform household tasks, requiring family help. Taken all together, the evidence was sufficient to require a jury trial.