Court rules woman's injuries not caused by collision and don't constitute a serious impairment
Nino Mumladze sued Susan Elizabeth Doerr to recover compensation for back injuries she alleged that she suffered in a car accident caused by Doerr. Doerr's insurer did not dispute fault but did argue that the plaintiff's damages were not caused by the collision. At trial the jury agreed with Doerr's attorneys and entered a verdict against Mumladze, finding that she suffered no injury in the Doerr collision. Ms. Mumladze pursued an appeal without the help of an attorney, alleging that the jury's decision was against the great weight of the evidence. She did not, however, fulfill the procedural requirements to pursue an appeal on this basis.
The Court of Appeals did not base its affirmance entirely on the procedural errors, however, and noted initially that the evidence the plaintiff relied upon to establish an injury was primarily the testimony of a physician who had not been informed by Mumladze of plaintiff's subsequent motor vehicle collision. The Court noted that the jury may have determined that Mumladze's credibility had been impaired by this omission or that the omission may have greatly altered the weight that it gave to the poorly-informed physician's testimony.
The court went on to explain to the unrepresented plaintiff that even if the jury erred in attributing causation, she had not proved a "serious impairment of bodily function" under the Kreiner standard. The so-called Engler Majority ruled several years ago that an injured car accident victim was required to show a "life-altering" impact in order to recover for motor vehicle accident injuries. This activist standard which had no basis in the No Fault Act is now on appeal and likely to be overturned, but in the interim, it was binding on the court that heard Mumladze's claim. The court reviewed the evidence and found that the plaintiff's subjective and self-imposed complaints and restrictions did not support a serious impairment claim.