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Client Evaluation

Evaluation of Mary Smith and Shayla Smith
Date: October 25, 2010

Preamble: This case is a potential negligence case involving a swimming pool and a ten-year child who was under the care and supervision of neighbors at a public campground. Potential defendants are the neighbors and the campground owners. The only witnesses appear to be the two ten-year girls, one of whom was injured.

Issue: Who is the negligent party (or parties) responsible for the personal injury suffered by Shayla Smith while swimming at O&D Family Campground?
Evaluation:

Mary Smith: Mary is the 38 year old mother of Shayla Smith and is a single parent. There is no parental contact with Shayla’s father or any financial support from him. Mary stated that Shayla can be a handful and is dyslexic. She presented herself well and stated she works as a secretary. Mary answered questions directly and did not appear to be hiding anything. Mary did not bring in any of Shayla’s medical records or billings but said she would get them to us. She stated that it is difficult for her to leave work and she has had to expend significant time to take Shayla to doctor’s appointments. Mary has health insurance for Shayla but it does not cover tortuous injuries.

Mary appears to be a typical single parent who is struggling financially and is adamant that the Tuttle’s and the owners of O&D Family Campground are at fault for Shayla’s injuries and has clearly stated she wants to be compensated for the medical bills, physical therapy for Shayla, for the time she has lost from work, and for pain and suffering. The longer we spoke, the more anxious and agitated Mary became. She mentioned several times that she heard about people with cases like hers that received $500,000.

Mary also states that Shayla’s arm is not healed properly and will require more doctor visits and physical therapy to fix it. She would also like Shayla to see a psychologist as Shayla has had nightmares about the accident. Mary does not have the funds to do this.

According to Mary, Shayla had swimming lessons approximately 5 years ago and she did well. Mary said that Shayla told her there were no signs posted and there was no lifeguard. She stated that Shayla is not a liar. Mary said Mr. and Mrs. Tuttle have sent cards and gifts to Shayla.

I think that Mary is truly distraught that her daughter suffered this injury. Now that Shayla is recovering, not only does Mary need to be reimbursed for the medical expenses, Mary sees this as a potential “payday”. She can appear eager to “cash in”. She is making some statements regarding the campground and the pool but she admittedly has not been there. Shayla Smith: Shayla is Mary’s ten-year old daughter who allegedly is dyslexic. During our interview Shayla obviously had some difficulty focusing on the questions. Shayla answered questions however she appeared evasive on some of her answers and directly contradicted herself on other answers.

Shayla appears to be a typical child who may be somewhat hyperactive as well based on her mother calling her a “handful”. Because she is dyslexic she does have difficulty reading but during the interview she said that she can read fine; however, this may be because she wants to be considered normal and not “different” or “special”. Shayla said she did not try to read the sign at the pool (after telling her mother there were no signs) but she says she is a good swimmer. She said she heard her friend Tamara yell something at her before she jumped into the pool but did not understand what Tamara was saying. She stated also that Mr. and Mrs. Tuttle had been to the pool the previous day with her and Tamara. According to Shayla there was no lock on the pool gate.

Many of Shayla’s responses were contradictory or vague. It appeared to depend on how the question was worded as to how she answered. She first stated Mr. and Mrs. Tuttle gave them permission to...
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