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Ingram v. McCuiston

Supreme Court of North Carolina
134 S.E.2d 705 (N.C. 1964)


Facts

Betty Pat Ingram (plaintiff) was injured in a car accident with Linda Lee McCuiston (defendant). Ingram brought a negligence suit against McCuiston. It was alleged that Ingram sustained a five percent permanent disability to her neck and thoracic spine in the accident and that she suffered from emotional problems due to the accident as well. Ingram’s orthopedic specialist, Dr. Miller, testified at trial in response to an extended hypothetical fact pattern supplied by Ingram’s attorney. The fact pattern involved Ingram’s history of emotional and physical health, as well as the circumstances of the accident, among other things. Included in the fact pattern were facts that were assumed, embellished, or even false, including that: (1) Ingram was in excellent physical and emotional health; (2) Ingram developed suicidal tendencies after the accident; (3) Ingram’s cervical spine and lumbar spine also became disabled; and (4) other irrelevant facts such as stories from Ingram’s childhood and her reason for being on the road the day of the accident. Dr. Miller stated in response to the fact pattern that the accident could have produced the physical and emotional conditions described, and that he was basing his testimony as to the emotional conditions on the separate testimony of Ingram’s psychiatrist, Dr. Wright. The trial court allowed the hypothetical fact pattern and Dr. Miller’s responses and found in favor of Ingram. McCuiston appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Sharp, J.)

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