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Jury rejection of diabetic's loss of vision claim after motor vehicle collision is upheld

Denton Slavings was a poorly controlled diabetic with multiple health problems, including trouble in the small blood vessels of his eyes.  In 2005, he was involved in a motor vehicle collision, and the following day he reported to his doctor a loss of vision in the right eye.  His doctor and the following consultants offered the opinion that Slavings' loss of vision was caused by motor vehicle trauma superimposed on vulnerable structures already weakened by diabetes.  They noted that it is impossible to distinguish between damages caused by these two separate causes.  After hearing the case, the jury refused to award Slavings any compensation, and his attorneys appealed to the trial judge and the Court of Appeals, seeking a new trial.

 Both the lower court and the Court of Appeals rejected Slavings' claim that the jury verdict was "against the great weight of the evidence."  They noted that Slavings' credibility was badly diminshed by several issues:  he had never told his doctor about previous eye problems, and although he claimed no problems with his right eye before the collision, his medical records suggested otherwise. 

Further, Slavings' claim that the loss of vision severely impacted his life was brought into question by the Social Security application he had filed two months before the collision.  In that document, he related many lifestyle changes and limitations caused by the loss of vision, even before the motor vehicle accident.  The jury was free to disbelieve his claim that the May document was actually prepared after the collision and back-dated by a social worker who assisted him.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
Fax: 231-929-7262