In Blog, Credibility, Deposition, Workers’ Compensation

An employee witnessed my client’s on-the-job accident. He was the only witness to the accident. The employer denied my client’s workers’ compensation claim, in part, because they claimed there were no witnesses to the accident. The witness did not want to testify for fear of losing his job or possible retaliation. He only would testify if he was ordered to so a subpoenaed was issued compelling him to come testify via deposition. Before he was sworn in by the court reporter, what follows is our interesting interaction. We had much greater interaction before we even went on the record. I never want to threaten a witness with contempt of court to get them to testify but in this particular instance it was effective and got the witness to testify. And he did testify that he witnessed my client’s on-the-job accident and his explanation was consistent with my client’s explanation for how he was injured.

10 MR. NOMBERG: Let’s go ahead and
11 proceed then.
12 THE COURT REPORTER: Will you
13 raise your right hand?
14 (Plaintiff’s Exhibit 1 was
15 marked for identification.)
16 MR. NOMBERG: Did you get the
17 Plaintiff’s Exhibit 1, the Order To Appear?
18 WITNESS: I still don’t want to
19 say nothing. I’m uncomfortable talking
20 period. I can’t even — you asked me a
21 question right now like I can’t — I won’t
22 say nothing right now.
23 MR. NOMBERG: Let’s start with
1 some easy things. [Witness], Plaintiff’s
2 Exhibit 1 is an Order To Appear. This is a
3 court order. It says you are ordered to
4 appear to give testimony before the Court or
5 by deposition. That’s what we’re here for
6 today.
7 WITNESS: Uh-huh.
8 MR. NOMBERG: Failure to obey
9 this subpoena may be deemed a contempt of
10 Court from which the subpoena was issued.
11 I’m trying to keep you from being in
12 contempt of court. Would you please answer
13 [the court reporter’s] question.
14 WITNESS: You’re going to hold
15 me in contempt for something that ain’t got
16 nothing to do with me, Man?
17 MR. NOMBERG: I won’t. The judge
18 will. Will you please answer [the court reporter’s] 19 question?
20 WITNESS: I don’t understand
21 how I can be held in contempt for something
22 that has got nothing to do with me. I’m
23 here.
1 MR. NOMBERG: It’s right here in
2 front of you, Plaintiff’s Exhibit 1, Order
3 To Appear?
4 WITNESS: I’m here. I
5 appeared.
6 MR. NOMBERG: Thank you. Now
7 start answering questions so you won’t be
8 held in contempt of court.
9 WITNESS: This is — yes,
10 whatever.
11 WITNESS,
12 having been duly sworn, was examined and
13 testified as follows:

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