Meter maid’s miracle recovery no bar to $1.6 million award

When meter maid Mercy Zamora’s cart crashed, she was injured — with such serious and permanent injuries, testified her husband, that she could no longer engage in strenuous or demanding physical activities. Then a defense lawyer introduced a photo showing Zamora with arms thrown over her head in triumph after completing a 10-kilometer race. If you think that spelled an ignominious end to the case, you must be a new reader here: the jury nonetheless “awarded about $1.6 million against Cushman Inc., maker of the cart Zamora was driving, and employer city of San Francisco, which had already settled out.” (Scott Graham, CalLaw “Legal Pad”, Jul. 22; CJAC, Jul. 24).


  • Can the husband be indicted for perjury?

  • The sad thing is that the jury still bought the whole scam.
    Once the plaintiff gets caught in a bald faced lie regarding the future disability, it should substantially shift their readiness to believe the rest of their tails.
    The lawyers couldn’t create this fiasco all by themselves; it took the jury too.

  • Yes, but the jury selection rules in this country allow the lawyers to have a HUGE hand in who actually gets onto the jury.

  • Not sure how the defense acquired the photo. In my experience, jurors are more put off by a defendant’s percieved invasion of privacy via sub rosa surveillance than by a plaintiff’s malingering. Sad.

  • Alton,

    Hugo, the defense atty, said he got the picture of the “disabled” plaintiff on the internet. Someone probably posted it on Flickr, another photo-sharing site, or the organizers of the race took pictures of all the finishers.

    Hopefully, you are not saying that the plaintiff’s privacy was invaded by the picture of her participating at a public event.

  • The judge should have intervened and overturned this nonsense. What a pathetic woman she is to conciously scam the insurance company!

  • I’d be interested in knowing two things, from my perspective as a trial attorney and runner:

    1. How fast could she run the race pre-injury as opposed to post-injury? Finishing such a race after a bad injury could be quite the triumph indeed. I’ve seen folks in wheelchairs and prosthetic legs run marathons. A friend of my ran a 5K after recovering from a broken neck. These are the just-won’t-quit types of folks we call role models. So running a race doesn’t mean, by itself, that the person hasn’t suffered an injury and disability that is compensable.

    2. I’d be interested in knowing if she said she couldn’t run, or whether it was more difficult to run. Big difference. There isn’t any trial testimony that I saw quoted. And that would be pretty darn important for obvious reasons. That isn’t the type of thing where one should accept the paraphrasing of an advocate in a press release. You need the real words.

    By the way, finish line photos are routine now. Commercial photogs take the pics and sell them if they can to the runners and race organizers will get a buck or two per pic.

  • @7: 1:14:25 according to the photo.

    While that is somewhat slower than Zamora’s 2003 time, I would think the difference between being 36 and 41 readily accounts for the two or three minutes.

    What’s remarkable is that the trial lawyer’s press release is shameless about having made a misrepresentation to the court, as if to say, Yeah, I got caught lying, but look how good I am that I still got over a million, and would’ve gotten more if I hadn’t got caught.

  • Ted:

    I think that press release came from a defense lawyer, not plaintiff’s counsel.

    And knowing one prior 10K time doesn’t really help, without knowing when the accident even was, or what condition she was in at the time of the races. I’ve run better and faster in my 40s than in my 30s. Better training, better eating, etc. Even if all other things were equal, which they never are, simply better weather could easily account for a few minutes.

    The most important bit of info would be, of course, what her actual testimony was with respect to her limitations at the time of the race.

  • Eric is right; I am wrong. The press release described by the CalLaw blog came from defense counsel. I regret the error.

  • As I understand this woman lost an ovary and several feet of her intestines in this accident. It is obvious that this woman made a great recovery. Should you punish her for that or should we as the people compensate her for the failure of her faulty vehicle.