(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this brain injury case and its proceedings.)
A. CONVENIENCE OF WITNESSES
As mentioned, plaintiff intends to call one of the neurosurgeons who treated him at Sacramento Medical Center and another who treated him at Mercy. Both of these surgeons performed operations on Mr. Santoro at different times and for different reasons. Both will testify about the extent and severity of the head injury Mr. Santoro sustained, as well as the fact that an extreme amount of force was required to cause this level of injury.
This evidence is a critical piece of plaintiff’s proof in the liability phase. One of plaintiffs causes of action is for battery by Officer Doe. The crux of this claim is whether the force used by the officer was unreasonable or excessive under the circumstances. See, e.g., CACI Instruction No. 1305; Edson v. City of Aneheim, 63 Cal.App.4th 1269, 1272 [in action for battery against a police officer, plaintiff has burden of proving unreasonable force by the officer].
The nature and extent of the injury, as well as testimony about the amount of force that would be necessary to cause such an injury, is relevant and admissible on this issue.
Of course, both of these doctors will have additional testimony on the issue of damages. Bifurcation would therefore require that both testify twice, which would be highly inconvenient and unnecessarily expensive.
The same is true of plaintiff’s neuropsychologist and neurologist. One or both would have to testify in a liability phase, for they must explain why it is that the plaintiff unable to recall anything about this event. Mr. Santoro will testify that he has no memory of the incident (or the few days before and many months after). On the surface, Mr. Santoro might seem like he is okay. He is now able to walk and talk relatively normally. It will be necessary to have professionals explain what it is about Mr Santoro’ condition and injury that has resulted in this significant memory loss. This would be important evidence in the liability phase of a bifurcated trial.
Again, these witnesses will provide additional evidence on damages. To ask professionals like these to return for a second round of testimony would be inconvenient, to put it mildly, and unnecessarily expensive.
Finally, at least two civilian witnesses would also have to testify twice if the case were bifurcated. Mr. Santoro’ close friends, Paul Thomas and Danny Jones, were with him at the time of the incident and are eye witnesses. They are also witnesses on the issue of damages, for both have known Mr. Santoro since junior high school and have remained very close with him in adulthood, both before and after the incident. Both will testify about the changes in Mr. Santoro today as compared to the James Santoro they knew prior to his injury.
Both Mr.Thomas and Mr. Jones are working professionals. Mr.Thomas is in the real estate/mortgage business, Mr. Hernandez holds a degree in accounting from the Universtiy of Sacramento and is a bookkeeper for a local company. While both could testify twice if necessary, it would be inconvenient.
In short, as it relates to convenience of witnesses, bifurcation of this case would be highly inconvenient for several witnesses, as many would have to testify twice. Not only would scheduling these witnesses twice be highly inconvenient, it would add substantially to the cost of trying this case as the medical professionals would have to be paid twice. (See Part 7 of 9.)
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.