2014 High School Mock Trial Program

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1 29th Annual Colorado Bar Association 2014 High School Mock Trial Program The Official Colorado Case Problem and Exhibits Elliot Cook v. Cody Ortiz, Defendant Written by the Colorado Bar Association s Mock Trial Committee and the Public Legal Education Department 1900 Grant St., Ste. 900, Denver coloradohighschoolmocktrial.com

2 CASE MATERIALS Table of Contents THE PROBLEM Case Summary... 3 Available Witnesses... 4 Stipulations... 5 JURY INSTRUCTIONS... 6 WITNESS STATEMENTS For the Plaintiff Finley Bush Skylar Turner Elliot Cook For the Defense Sawyer Beard Parker Madden Cody Ortiz EXHIBITS Number Description 1. Image of Defendants Vehicle Image of Cross Walk Instructions at Scene Image of Scene from the North Side of S. Golden Rd Image of the Intersection of the Incident Image of the Bush Family Residence and Blue Truck Facebook Screenshot Road Map Parker Madden CV Skylar Turner CV Image of Damaged Bicycle... 42

3 CASE SUMMARY On June 26, 2013, Cody Ortiz, a student at Golden High School, drove into an intersection in Golden, Colorado, at the same Elliot Cook, a working parent at the Colorado School of Mines, started to cross through the intersection on a bicycle. The two collided and Elliot Cook was injured. Right before driving into the intersection, Cody Ortiz looked down at a text message that had just come through on his/her smartphone. While riding his bike into the intersection, Elliot Cook was talking on his/her smartphone. Both parties claim the other one had a red light. Two witnesses, Finley Bush and Sawyer Beard, saw the accident, but both have their biases. Finley Bush doesn t like Cody Ortiz, and Sawyer Beard doesn t like bicyclists. Skylar Turner, an expert on distracted driving, blames the accident on Cody Ortiz. Madden, an accident reconstructionist, states it was Elliot Cook s fault. Parker 12/17/13 3

4 AVAILABLE WITNESSES Prosecution Finley Bush Skylar Turner expert in forensic traffic psychiatry Elliot Cook Defense Sawyer Beard Parker Madden expert in accident reconstruction Cody Ortiz EXHIBITS Exhibit 1 Image of Defendants Vehicle Exhibit 2 Image of Cross Walk Instructions at Scene Exhibit 3 Image of Scene from the North Side of S. Golden Rd Exhibit 4 Image of the Intersection of the Incident Exhibit 5 Image of the Bush Family Residence and Blue Truck Exhibit 6 Facebook Screenshot Exhibit 7 Road Map Exhibit 8 Parker Madden CV Exhibit 9 Skylar Turner CV Exhibit 10 Image of Damaged Bicycle 12/17/13 4

5 STIPULATED FACTS 1. All exhibits included in the problem are authentic and accurate in all respects, and no objections to the authenticity of the exhibits shall be entertained. 2. The signatures on the witness statements and all other documents are authentic. 3. Chain of custody for evidence is not in dispute. 4. Stipulations cannot be contradicted or challenged. 5. Exhibits 2 through 5 fairly and accurately represent the way the intersection looked on June 26, Exhibit 6 accurately reflects the information on Cody Ortiz s Facebook page on June 26, The Case Summary is of no legal consequence in terms of the trial and is not admissible for impeachment purposes or for any other purpose. 8. This case will be bifurcated. Only the issue of fault is before the jury. The plaintiff must establish that he/she was injured, however, the amount of damages, if any, is not before the jury at this time. 9. All pleadings and exhibits (and their pre markings) are authentic. The parties reserve the right to dispute any legal or factual conclusions based on these items and to make objections other than to authenticity. 10. The Defendant s phone records are unavailable due to no fault of either party. 12/17/13 5

6 JURY INSTRUCTIONS Instruction No. 1 The plaintiff claims that the defendant was negligent, and that that the defendant s negligence caused an injury to the plaintiff. As an affirmative defense, the defendant asserts that the plaintiff s injuries were caused in whole or in part by the plaintiff s own negligence. The plaintiff has the burden of proving the plaintiff s claim by a preponderance of the evidence. The defendant has the burden of proving the affirmative defense by a preponderance of the evidence. To prove something by a preponderance of the evidence means to prove that it is more probably true than not. Burden of proof means the obligation a party has to prove his or her claim or defense by a preponderance of the evidence. The party with the burden of proof can use evidence produced by any party to persuade you. If a party fails to meet his or her burden of proof as to any claim or defense, or if the evidence weighs so evenly that you are unable to say that there is a preponderance on either side, you must reject that claim or defense. Instruction No. 2 The parties have agreed to the amount of damages to be awarded in the event the jury finds that the Defendant, Cody Ortiz, is liable to the plaintiff, Elliott Cook. Accordingly, the only issues to be decided by the jury are whether the defendant is liable for any injuries suffered by the plaintiff, and whether the plaintiff is liable for any of the plaintiff s own injuries. Instruction No. 3 Evidence may be either direct or circumstantial. Circumstantial evidence is the proof of facts or circumstances from which the existence or nonexistence of other facts may reasonably be inferred. All other evidence is direct evidence. The law makes no distinction between the effect of direct evidence and circumstantial evidence. Instruction No. 4 You must not be influenced by sympathy, bias, or prejudice for or against any party in this case. 12/17/13 6

7 Instruction No. 5 You are the sole judges of the credibility of the witnesses and the weight to be given their testimony. You should take into consideration their means of knowledge, strength of memory and opportunities for observation; the reasonableness or unreasonableness of their testimony; the consistency or lack of consistency in their testimony; their motives; whether their testimony has been contradicted or supported by other evidence; their bias, prejudice or interest, if any; their manner or demeanor upon the witness stand; and all other facts and circumstances shown by the evidence which affect the credibility of the witnesses. Based on these considerations, you may believe all, part or none of the testimony of a witness. The weight of evidence is not necessarily determined by the number of witnesses testifying to a particular fact. A witness qualified as an expert by education, training, or experience may state opinions. You should judge expert testimony just as you would judge any other testimony. You may accept it or reject it, in whole or in part. You should give the testimony the importance you think it deserves, considering the witness's qualifications, the reasons for the opinions, and all of the other evidence in the case. Instruction No. 6 For the plaintiff, Elliott Cook, to recover from the defendant, Cody Ortiz, on the plaintiff s claim of negligence, you must find that all of the following have been proved by a preponderance of the evidence: 1. The plaintiff had injuries; 2. The defendant was negligent; and 3. The defendant's negligence was a cause of the plaintiff's injuries. If you find that any one or more of the above three statements has not been proved, then your verdict must be for the defendant and you may disregard the remainder of this instruction. On the other hand, if you find that all of the above three statements have been proved, then you must determine whether the defendant has proven the affirmative defense of comparative negligence. The affirmative defense of the comparative negligence of the plaintiff, Elliott Cook, is proved if you find all of the following: 1. The plaintiff was negligent; and 2. The negligence of the plaintiff was a cause of the plaintiff's own claimed injuries. If you find the plaintiff, Elliott Cook, was injured, and that the plaintiff's injuries were caused by both the negligence of the plaintiff, Elliott Cook, and the defendant, Cody Ortiz, then you must 12/17/13 7

8 determine to what extent the negligent conduct of each contributed to the injuries of the plaintiff, expressed as a percentage of 100 percent. If you find that both the plaintiff and the defendant were negligent, and that the negligence of the plaintiff was equal to or greater than the negligence of the defendant, then the plaintiff will not be allowed to recover. On the other hand, if you find that both the plaintiff and the defendant were negligent, and that the negligence of the defendant was greater than the negligence of the plaintiff, then the plaintiff will be allowed to recover. If the plaintiff is allowed to recover, the total damages awarded will be reduced by the Court by the percentage of the plaintiff's negligence. Instruction No. 7 Negligence means a failure to do an act which a reasonably careful person would do, or the doing of an act which a reasonably careful person would not do, under the same or similar circumstances to protect oneself or others from injury. The mere occurrence of an accident does not raise any presumption of negligence on the part of either the plaintiff or the defendant. Instruction No. 8 A driver must maintain a proper lookout to see what that driver could and should have seen in the exercise of reasonable care. Instruction No. 9 To look in such a manner as to fail to see what must have been plainly visible is to look without a reasonable degree of care, and is of no more effect than not to have looked at all. Instruction No. 10 At the time of the occurrence in question in this case, the following statutes were in effect: Vehicular traffic facing a circular green signal may proceed straight through the intersection. Vehicular traffic facing a steady circular red signal shall stop before entering the intersection, and shall remain standing until an indication to proceed is shown. A person under eighteen years of age shall not use a wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle. A person eighteen years of age or older shall not use a wireless telephone for the purpose of engaging in text messaging or other similar forms of manual data entry or transmission while operating a motor vehicle. Use means talking on or listening to a wireless telephone or engaging the wireless telephone for text messaging or other similar forms of manual data entry or transmission. 12/17/13 8

9 Whenever special pedestrian control signals exhibiting the words "Walk" or "Don't Walk" are in place, such signal shall control the actions of bicyclists using the pedestrian crosswalks as follows: While the "Walk" indication is illuminated, a bicyclist facing such signal may proceed across the roadway in the direction of the signal indication. Whenever the "Don't Walk" indication is flashing, no bicyclist shall start to cross the roadway in the direction of the indication, but any bicyclist who has partially completed his crossing during the "Walk" indication shall proceed to a sidewalk or to a safety island, and all drivers of vehicles shall yield to any such bicyclist. While the "Don't Walk" indication is steadily illuminated, no bicyclist shall enter the roadway to cross that roadway in a pedestrian crosswalk in the direction of the signal indication. A violation of any of the above statutes constitutes negligence. If you find such a violation, you may only consider it if you also find that it was a cause of the plaintiff s claimed injuries. It is not a defense to a claimed act of negligence that a person was unaware that his or her conduct constituted a violation of one of the above statutes. Instruction No. 11 A person has the right to believe that others will obey applicable laws and regulations, unless there are reasonable grounds to believe otherwise. Instruction No. 12 Although a driver may have the right of way, the driver must exercise reasonable care considering the existing conditions. Although a bicycle operator may have the right of way, the bicycle operator must exercise reasonable care considering the existing conditions. Instruction No. 13 The word cause as used in these instructions means an act or failure to act that in natural and probable sequence produced the claimed injury. It is a cause without which the claimed injury would not have happened. If more than one act or failure to act contributed to the claimed injury, then each act or failure to act may have been a cause of the injury. A cause does not have to be the only cause or the last or nearest cause. It is enough if the act or failure to act joins in a natural and probable way with some other act or failure to act to cause some or all of the claimed injury. 12/17/13 9

10 Affidavit of Finley Bush Plaintiff Witness All right, so you just want me to start talking? You don t want to use the video camera to record this statement? If you do, use my right side it s the better side of my profile. Okay, anyway, I am Finley Bush. That s my name and I live in Golden, where I go to high school. I have a super good memory so you should totally take this statement as the whole truth. Because I d never lie under oath I take this legal stuff very seriously. I do mock trial for my school and totally want to be a lawyer because I m pretty good at arguing and I watch a bunch of Law & Order when all my friends are watching reality shows. Anyway, so you want me to tell you about Mr./Mrs. Cook s accident, right? OMG It was horrible. I babysit for the Cooks. I have been watching them since they have moved to the area. They ve got these two really adorable kids. Like, it s fun to watch the kids but I don t enjoy cleaning diapers. But otherwise they are a pretty cool family, or at least, they were until the accident. It s been a total bummer that Mr./Mrs. Cook got in the accident because that was my spending money at the Mills Mall. I live down the street from the Cooks and I would run over and grab the kids when Mr./Mrs. Cook went on his/her bike rides and I d bring them back to my house. On the night of the accident, I picked up the kids probably about five ish? I was just supposed to have the kids for an hour until Mr./Mrs. Cook got back from the bike ride. I know s/he also needed to talk to someone about work stuff because Mr./Mrs. Cook had her phone and headset on, like s/he always did, and s/he said I could call if there was a problem. My house is on the corner, where the intersection and the traffic light are. My older brother is selling his blue truck which is parked in our front yard. We had someone call from craigslist who wanted to come check it out. I went outside to make sure it was unlocked and clean. I had the kids playing inside, it was ok, my mom was in there watching them. I saw Mr./Mrs. Cook riding back from his/her 12/17/13 10

11 ride and I waved, but s/he didn t see me. That s when I saw the car coming. The car was blaring the song We Can t Stop by Miley Cyrus, it was obnoxious, I really can t stand that song or Miley for that matter, especially after the stunt she pulled at the MTV VMA s, but I noticed that the car looked familiar, so I was looking to see who the driver was. It turns out the driver goes to my school. His/her name is Cody Ortiz and s/he is very popular always doing the school plays, sports, student council. I know him/her because we both tried out for the lead attorney role for last year s Mock Trial. Of course, Cody got it! S/he hangs out with the cool crowd, everyone seems to like him/her, except me because I don t really care about that kind of stuff, but I recognized him/her when s/he got out of the car. Sometimes I see Cody in the hallway at school and it seems like s/he s always looking at his/her phone, even when walking with other friends and just going between classes. I bet Cody sends a million texts. Myself? I never send more than 40 texts per day. When I first saw Cody, s/he was looking down at his/her lap. I couldn t see if s/he was looking at a phone, but his/her head was definitely looking downwards. Then the accident happened. I could see that Cody might not be looking at the intersection and I could see that Mr./Mrs. Cook was starting to cross the street and they just collided. It was awful! Like a slow motion YouTube horror video. The bike and Mr./Mrs. Cook went flying, and Cody s head popped up as she/he stomped on the brakes. I started to scream for my mom to call 911. Mr./Mrs. Cook seemed okay. I mean s/he was walking around while the police came, and when s/he first got up after the crash, I saw him/her reach up and take his/her ear buds out. The car ended up across the street in the 7 11 parking lot. I saw Cody get out of the car and run to the front of the car. Cody had something in his/her hand and when she/he put it on the hood of the car, I could see that it was a phone. It was shaped like a smartphone, anyway. I stayed with the kids until Mr./Mrs. Cook got back from the hospital and came to pick them up. It was really terrible. Now Mr./Mrs. Cook can t ride his/her bicycle anymore and it s just been 12/17/13 11

12 devastating for their family. My spending money has suffered because they don t ask me to babysit any longer. I never even look at my phone now when I m driving, since I m sure the whole accident happened because Cody was too busy texting or something to watch where s/he was driving. I have carefully reviewed this statement, and it includes everything I know of that could be relevant to the events I discussed. I understand that I can and must update this statement if anything new occurs to me before the trial. Subscribed and Sworn to on this 1st Day of November, /S/ Finley Bush 12/17/13 12

13 Affidavit of Skylar Turner Plaintiff Witness My name is Skylar Turner. I am a forensic traffic psychiatrist. I attended the University of Denver where I obtained a dual degree in psychology and forensic science. My minor was criminology. I then attended medical school at the University Of Denver School Of Medicine. After completing medical school, I did a four year psychiatry residency at the University Of Colorado School Of Medicine, focusing 5 on traffic psychiatry. I then took the medical board examination and was licensed to practice in Colorado. I subsequently completed a one year fellowship in forensic psychiatry, also at the University Colorado School of Medicine. Upon completion of my fellowship, I sat for a board certification in forensic psychiatry and became board certified in Colorado. I began to work for the Colorado State Patrol in the traffic safety unit. There, I served as a forensic traffic psychiatrist for two years. My focus and research became centered on accidents that involved distracted drivers. I have read everything available on the subject, including the most recent AAA research. One year ago, I left the Colorado State Patrol and opened my own practice to work as a forensic traffic psychiatrist on a consultation basis. I ve been hired by both plaintiff and defense counsels, but this is the first time my testimony will be required at trial. I charge $200 an hour for preparation and investigation. I charge $500 for time spent testifying on a case. Traffic psychiatry is a discipline of psychiatry that studies the relationship between psychological processes and the behavior of road users. Behavior is frequently studied in conjunction with accident research in order to assess causes and differences in accident involvement. Behavior research in traffic psychiatry often deals with subjects like motivation, personality and gender differences, habits, overconfidence, age and skill differences, attention, and violation of traffic rules. In addition to behavior research, accident research also is a component in traffic psychiatry, looking at driving methodology, individual differences, characteristics of personality, temporary impairments, and relevant capabilities, the driver as an information processor (includes perception and reaction times), human factors on 12/17/13 13

14 highway accidents, and the pedestrian (identifying vulnerability, causes and prevention of accidents). Examination of the operator plays a large role in transportation psychiatry. While many external factors influence traffic safety, internal factors are also significant. Some factors include: decisionmaking, demographics, distraction, detection thresholds, drugs and alcohol, driving training and experience, familiarity with vehicle and environment, fatigue, inattention, perception reaction time, response to the unexpected, risky behaviors, stress and panic. In August 2013, I was contacted by Elliot Cook to review the circumstances of an accident that occurred on June 26, Mr/s. Cook was riding a bicycle at the time of the accident and was hit by a car being driven by Cody Ortiz. As a result of the accident, Mr/s. Cook suffered severe body trauma. As part of my investigation, I reviewed the affidavits of Elliott Cook, Cody Ortiz, Parker Madden and Sawyer Beard, as well as Exhibits 1 through 10. Based on my review of the witness statements, I learned that Mr/s. Cook, age twenty two, was riding a bicycle on the pedestrian path along Quaker Street near the intersection of South Golden Road in the city of Golden, County of Jefferson, State of Colorado. Mr/s. Cook was wearing a helmet and having a phone conversation about work using earplugs. S/he is an IT consultant with client management responsibilities, and the conversation was about a client project that was going badly. From my expertise, I know that bad news tends to cause tension in a person and then the person will focus on that news, which often leads them to lose focus on other aspects. Here, if Mr/s. Cook was worried about her client, s/he was probably a little distracted from her bicycle riding. However, it is very 43 hard to measure how much a distraction impacts a person. Each individual handles focus very differently, adults better than developing teenagers, and the type of distraction matters a great deal. Although, I believe Mr/s. Cook was distracted by her conversation, I do not believe that made her the cause of this accident. S/he was on a hand free set and looking up and ahead of her/him the entire time. From my review of the affidavits, the pedestrian crossing signal had gone from flashing to 12/17/13 14

15 solid when Elliot Cook reached the intersection. The better practice would have been for her/him to stop, but s/he still would have had the right of way in the intersection because the light was red for cars. At that same time and place, the defendant, Mr/s. Ortiz, driving a golden Civic, was proceeding westbound on South Golden Road approaching this red light. Mr/s. Ortiz ran the red light and hit Mr/s. Cook, who had entered the intersection. Mr/s. Ortiz, is a teenager who we can assume has only had a driver s license a short amount of time. Just before the accident, Mr/s. Ortiz had left his/her house after a heated argument with her/his parents and s/he admits in her/his statement to being very upset while driving. Emotional swings in teenagers are common, and most teenagers are not equipped to deal with emotional upheaval as well as most adults. Being emotional behind the wheel of a car will cause distraction and less attention focused on the act of driving. In this situation, we have an emotional teenager who adds to his/her distraction by frequently glancing away from the road to look at his/her phone. Mr./s. Oritz says that shortly after leaving the house s/he decided to vent on Facebook via her/his phone about her argument with her parents. His/er comment received numerous likes and comments that Mr/s. Ortiz checked immediately and even responded to. As s/he was about to cross the intersection where the accident occurred, Mr/s. Ortiz received another message. Mr/s. Ortiz stated that s/he momentarily looked down at his/her phone on his/her lap. It is not clear whether s/he had one or both hands on the wheel at this time, but for sure s/he did not have both eyes on the road. Based on my research and experience as forensic traffic psychiatry, it is clear that distracted driving is extremely dangerous because it diminishes the ability of the brain to focus. Some of the most recent scientific findings include: % of drivers 18 to 24 years old are sending or receiving text messages while driving. Teenagers, in particular, use texting as major means of communication. A 2012 study said that the average teenager sends/receives 60 texts per day. 12/17/13 15

16 Motorists on cell phones exhibit the reaction speed and coordination of drivers with blood alcohol levels exceeding 0.08 that s like getting behind the wheel after 4 drinks. This would also be the case for bicyclists. Drivers on cell phones are four times more likely to be in an accident. A 2002 study showed that talking on a cell phone was the cause of at least 2,600 deaths and 330,000 injuries annually. Research also shows that simply looking at a text message while traveling at 40 mph is like driving the entire length of a football field blindfolded My expertise is not about the scene of the accident specifically, but more about the events and behaviors that caused the two individual s traffic interaction. I ve already explained that while Mr/s. Cook was distracted by his/her phone conversation, and I do not believe he/she is the cause of this accident. S/he is an adult who is better equipped to handle multiple tasks at one time, s/he is older and likely has years of experience riding a bicycle, and s/he was on a hand free set allowing her/his head to be looking up and her/his vision was clear. Based on my investigation, it is my opinion that the subject accident was caused by the distracted driving of Mr/s. Ortiz. The defendant, Mr/s. Ortiz, is a teenager and a fairly new driver with limited experience behind the wheel. Just before the accident, Mr/s. Ortiz was in a heated argument with her/his parents and s/he admits to being very upset while driving. Mr/s. Ortiz was distracted just prior to the accident by sending texts and receiving Facebook messages. But, most significantly, Mr/s. Ortiz was distracted at the time of the accident by looking at the text message s/he received, causing him/her to run the red light and strike Mr/s. Cook. Therefore, in my expert opinion, Mr/s. Ortiz s agitated state and distracted driving was the real cause of this accident. 12/17/13 16

17 I have carefully reviewed this statement, and it includes everything I know of that could be relevant to the events I discussed. I understand that I can and must update this statement if anything new occurs to me before the trial. Subscribed and Sworn to on this 1st Day of November, /S/ Skylar Turner 12/17/13 17

18 Affidavit of Elliot Cook Plaintiff Witness My name is Elliot Cook. For most of my 22 years, I have run into obstacles others have put in front of me and I have pushed through those obstacles to get what I deserve. But on June 26, 2013, an obstacle ran into me a vehicle driven by Cody Ortiz. My life was starting to turn around, and I was making plans for a bright future. That all changed the day Cody Ortiz decided that reading a text message was more important than watching the road. I moved to Golden after graduating from high school in Michigan. My high school grades were good enough to get me a partial scholarship to Colorado School of Mines, which I needed because my family has never been rich. I moved here with just enough money to pay the tuition and books not covered by my partial scholarship. I met my spouse my freshman year and we got married before the end of the first semester. Our daughter, Nancy, arrived my sophomore year and our son, James, my junior year. Before the accident, my spouse took care of the kids and I went to school during the day and worked evenings and weekends. I worked the help desk in the IT department for Xplorotech. They are a global oilfield services supplier with operations and offices all over the world, but most of their computer operations are based here in Colorado. Computer support is not what I wanted to do with my life, though. The help desk job paid enough that I could pay living expenses and college expenses not covered by my scholarship, and the position gave me the flexibility to work evenings, weekends and even remotely. Xplorotech, however, had promised to hire me on in their technology research division once I got my electrical engineering degree. That would have been my dream job. Since I moved to Golden, I have become an accomplished bicyclist. Riding helps me work out some of my frustration. I always wear a helmet, but one which allows me to wear ear buds. That way I can listen to music, but it also lets me talk on the phone so I could be on call with Xplorotech. On call shifts pay overtime and you just have to be available by phone to take service calls. I always talk hands 12/17/13 18

19 free, of course. In fact, I was on the phone trying to fix a major system outage in Calgary when the car hit me. I like to bike out near the National Renewable Energy Lab. I have ridden out to that area a couple hundred times or more. I always take the same route from my house there and back. On the day I got hit I was finishing my ride and heading back home. I was talking with the field office in Calgary. All they had left to do was restart the system, but that has to be done in a very specific order. Since I was riding on the street, I had my left ear bud out. I know some people have said that I had both ear buds in, but I always take the left ear bud out when I m riding on the street. Anyway, I was riding south on Quaker Street, and I was at a critical point in the restart sequence. As I came up on the intersection with South Golden Road, the crosswalk signal had been flashing. It s not like I wasn t watching what I was doing. I can talk with someone on the phone and watch what I m doing. Yeah, I was a little focused on the phone call, but I was still aware of what was going on around me. I remember a lot of what happened in the crash. Thankfully, my helmet stayed on and I don t think I ever passed out. Just as I got to the intersection the crosswalk signal stopped flashing. I had expected it to flash a little longer, but even when it stops flashing you still have about five seconds before the light turns green for the cross traffic. That was more than enough time to get safely across the road. Maybe if I hadn t been dealing with the system restart I might have looked harder to make sure nobody was going to run the light, but that doesn t mean the accident was my fault. I am 100% sure that the light had not turned green for traffic on Golden Road. In fact, there was a big truck in the east bound lanes stopped at the light. I was watching the truck and checking the light, while talking to the people in Calgary, as I rode into the intersection. Out of nowhere, a car shot into the intersection and hit me. I did not even have time to swerve. I was thrown about thirty feet. My bike was so mangled that my spouse had it mounted on a wall as a sort of trophy for my surviving the crash. At first, it seemed like I was okay. Sure, I hurt 12/17/13 19

20 everywhere and I had some nasty scrapes, but I could get up and walk around. Then about a week later I got my first migraine. I had never had a headache like that before blinding pain so intense I could barely crawl into the bathroom to vomit. It wiped me out for days afterward. Then I got another one and another one. Pretty soon I was having multiple migraines a day. Apparently, the accident damaged a facet joint in one of the cervical vertebrae in my neck. When the vertebrae rub together, it irritates a nerve that triggers the migraines. At first, the doctors treated it with cortisone injections. That gave me some relief, but it was a short term solution. Eventually I had to have what s called a facet rhizotomy. The doctor injected phenol into the damaged facet joint to destroy the nerve ending. Sticking a needle into my spine made me nervous, but it wasn t that painful. Burning the nerve with the phenol was a different story. I guess for some people it s not that bad, but for me it was excruciating. When the injection was done, it felt like the needle was still there because I couldn t move. I was actually in tears because it hurt so much. They gave me pain killers, but they didn t do much and I was in such bad pain for about two weeks that I couldn t go to work. Then things were pretty good for a while. I could work again, and I started school in the fall, but then the migraines started coming back. It turns out that rhizotomies are not necessarily permanent, and the burned nerve ending grows back. When that happens, I have to go through the process all over again maybe every few months for the rest of my life. The pain from the rhizotomy procedure was bad enough that I put off the second one as long as I could, but eventually the migraines were so bad I couldn t work and I couldn t go to school. The second rhizotomy procedure was just as horrible as the first, but at least now I should be okay for several months. Sometimes, though, when I think about having to go through this cycle, over and over and over again, for the rest of my life it s more than I can take. Worse, I m not sure how I can pay for it. The help desk is a contract position at Xplorotech, so I don t have health insurance. Since I was talking on the phone about work when I got hit, I filed for workers compensation, but my claim was denied. I have 12/17/13 20

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