In a matter tried before The Honorable Michael O'Neil on May 19, 20 and 21, 2015, Mercer County trial attorney John Weir obtained a defense verdict after less than forty-five minutes of jury deliberations. The matter of Ghafoor v. Dworak was tried with a seven person jury in Hunterdon County Superior Court in Flemington, NJ.
Prior to trial, the parties reached an agreement on the value of damages. Plaintiff alleged a back injury requiring a lumbar fusion, a rotator cuff tear requiring surgery and ongoing lumbar radiculopathy. Plaintiff alleged he was struck by a car while working as a gas station attendant at the Hess gas station on Route 202 in Three Bridges, New Jersey. The defendant alleged she was stopped when plaintiff walked backwards into her car. The liability only trial presented issues of the standard of care of a pedestrian crossing a travel lane in a private gas station parking area. Mr. Weir successfully argued that New Jersey Statute 39:4-36 applied equally to public and private property. Thus, plaintiff was under a duty to yield to oncoming traffic.
Plaintiff presented evidence of defendant's habit and custom under New Jersey Rule of Evidence 406 by testifying that defendant was a regular customer who always had difficulty stopping her vehicle at the pump. However, plaintiff also testified that defendant was an otherwise careful driver. Implicated in the issue of liability was the fact that defendant suffered from cerebral palsy and required special steering wheel modifications. The jury rejected plaintiff's arguments and found that defendant was not negligent thus negating any liability for damages.