Depositions, Education / Schools, Litigators

Columbia Questions Back Injury Because Student Still Got Good Grades

The ceiling of a Columbia dorm room collapsed on a student, giving her a herniated disk and persistent headaches. She claims the back injury compromised her ability to get a decent night’s sleep and forced her to take muscle relaxants to deal with the pain.

Now the newly minted lawyer is suing the school over her injuries, and the school’s lawyer is suggesting that the victim can’t really have this back injury because she kept getting good grades.

Brilliant legal strategy!

Veronica Couzo attended Columbia as an undergrad and has since graduated magna cum laude from Notre Dame Law. According to LinkedIn she’s with Jones Day, meaning the headache sufferer is likely to be a headache herself. In any event, Columbia’s lawyer, Eric Strober of Rivkin Radler, raised some interesting questions at Couzo’s deposition:

“Have you had any difficulty academically?” Strober asked, according to the June 2012 transcript.

“No I don’t let anything affect my academics,” Veronica answered.

Strober pressed, “You’re able to pay attention in class?”

Veronica confirmed, “Yes.”

“And you’re able to take your exams?” Strober continued.

“Yes” she said.

“And you have gotten good grades?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said.

I think that Stephen Hawking guy is faking it too. Seriously, does Strober live in a cartoon world where head trauma can only evoke comical brain lapses? I’m surprised he didn’t ask if she experienced retrograde amnesia. Defending personal injury claims requires a certain level of skepticism, and there’s at least a tenuous argument to be made that muscle relaxants could curtail attention spans, but seriously Columbia.

The more interesting revelation to come out of this case is that Columbia seems to have lots of these sorts of issues. The Department of Housing notes that Columbia has four outstanding violations in this complex alone. On a personal note, a friend of mine from Columbia Law had her ceiling collapse when she was in school too, though she avoided injury.

And I guess we also learned that Strober’s bills cost less than just fixing up all these units.

University lawyer suggests student faked injuries after dorm ceiling collapsed on her head [New York Post]

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