California Personal Injury Case Amazingly Avoids Immigration Debate

Immigration reform has been a major topic this year in the United States and will continue to be a hot source of debate after the Senate rejected a comprehensive immigration bill last week.

With that said, the questions about an illegal alien were somehow avoided in an interesting California personal injury lawsuit in which a woman was trying to sue a supermarket for her slip and fall injuries.

It turns out that the plaintiff, whose name was not listed in Oroville Mercury Register story, was an illegal alien. Amazingly, this fact was not fully disclosed to the jury and did not become an issue in this day and age of the great immigration debate. Those in favor of tighter borders and massive immigration reform have recently painted immigrants as the root of all evil while others have lauded the contribution of immigrants to the country; opposing opinions which thankfully played no role in this personal injury case.

Basically, the unidentified illegal alien filed a personal injury lawsuit against North State Groceries in Gridley, California and claimed that the store was negligent for her slip and fall injuries on a grape. The woman suffered a fractured kneecap as a result of the fall and sought $400,000 for past and future medical expenses, which allegedly included a future knee replacement. Lawyers for the store called this monetary figure "ridiculous" and thus set the arguments into motion in this California personal injury case.

Superior Court Judge Barbara Roberts later asked the plaintiff for clarification of why she couldn't pay for her medical expenses. Her San Francisco attorney, Rafael Crespo Jr., then revealed that his client "couldn't legally work in this country" without acknowledging to everyone that she was an illegal alien.

Crespo Jr. admitted in the story that he agreed to this clarification during the case so that he could prevent his client's illegal status from going public out of a fear that such a revelation would have a negative impact on his client's case.

While Crespo was able to avoid the perceived prejudice that he figured would result if it was learned that his client was illegally in the United States, he was unable to sway the jury that the store was liable for his client's personal injuries.

Without the plaintiff's illegal status being disclosed or even becoming an issue in this California personal injury case, the jury shortly convened after the three-day trial and found the supermarket not liable for the woman's injuries.

James Pincin, the attorney for North State Groceries, elaborated in the story that the woman's status in the country was not known and thus played absolutely no part in the jury's final decision. Pincin added that the final decision was based on the jury's finding that the grocery store was simply not liable for the injuries.

Ultimately, this California personal injury case leaves me with this question: in a day and age when the immigration debate is heated and so split, how did Crespo avoid this issue from playing a major role in this case?

While he may not have won the case for his client, give Crespo credit for getting her a fair shake.

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