Carefree Twitter messages about traveling and partying held down damages awarded by a Gwinnett County State Court jury to a woman who was injured in a car accident, said attorneys in the case.
The jury returned a $237,000 verdictapportioned down to $142,000to plaintiff Omiesha Daniels, far less than the $1.1 million she had sought. In the crash, Daniels, 22, broke her arm and incurred a forehead laceration that resulted in a scar. She claimed the injuries inhibited her ability to do her job as a hair stylist.
Defense attorney J. Robb Cruser said the posts from Daniels' Twitter account showed the jury she had recovered from the accident and was living a full life.
"Twitter sunk her," said Cruser of Cruser & Mitchell. "Those kinds of comments and that level of activity hurt the pain and suffering claim, even when she was saying she couldn't work like she used to."
The Twitter messages talked about an "epic weekend" in New Orleans and showed pictures of herself with friends at a beach for spring break, Cruser said.
Daniels wrote in one post, "I'm starting to love my scar," and she had to explain how she was able to use her injured arm to carry a handbag that was pictured online, Cruser said. Daniels told the jury the handbag was lightweight.
The Twitter posts gave the jury the impression that Daniels wasn't really injured, said her attorney, Michael Goldberg of Fried Rogers Goldberg.
"There was nothing she posted that was different from what she said she could do, but with the jury we had, there was some concern that if they gave this girl a large reward, she was going to go out and party later. It's not a hard argument to make to a very conservative jury," Goldberg said.
The all-white jury composition worked against Daniels, who is black, because jurors had a hard time relating to the difficulty of Daniels' job, which included African-American hair braiding and weaving, Goldberg said. Daniels asserted that the accident reduced her ability to do her job because she suffered pain in her arm and had to ask for help from co-workers.
There were 10 minorities in the 30-person jury pool, but four of the minorities were released from jury service because they couldn't speak English well, and Cruser struck the remaining six, Goldberg said.