Fitchburg District Court
Client a 43 year old male from Leominster, MA was charged with one count of Motor Vehicle Homicide by Negligent Operation and a second count of Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle. The client was a type 1 diabetic and suffered from a particularly “brittle” form of diabetes. This meant that the client’s blood sugar could be fine one minute and drop to a dangerously low level within a short period of time. While driving home from work one day on Rt. 190 the client’s blood sugar dropped very low and he lost consciousness and veered off the road and struck a person that was changing their tire on the side of the highway. The person changing their tire died as a result of the injuries they sustained when the client struck them with his motor vehicle. The client was treated at the scene for low blood sugar and was taken by ambulance to a local hospital.
The State Police obtained search warrants for the client’s medical records dating back approximately one year. The medical records revealed four prior incidents within the previous eight months of the client losing consciousness and being treated for hypoglycemia. The client had not seen an endocrinologist in approximately two years and maintained his diabetes by buying his insulin and tests strips at CVS. The Commonwealth argued the client was negligent in failing to treat with a doctor for his diabetes in two years and that his frequency of testing was sporadic. They further argued that the client knew or should have known not to get behind the wheel of a car with such brittle diabetes when he could lose consciousness so quickly.
Attorney Riddle presented evidence that the client maintained his diabetes the best he could without health insurance. That regardless of whether he treated with a doctor he always maintained his diabetes in the same way and with the same routine. The client would take his insulin twice per day, test his blood 4-8 times per day and try and eat healthy and exercise. The evidence at trial showed that the client tested his blood twice that day prior to the crash and had already taken his insulin once that day. The client had also eaten a sufficient breakfast and lunch that day and had not over exerted himself. A co-worker of the client testified that he appeared perfectly fine when he left work, just 10-15 minutes prior to the crash.
After the accident the defendant began treating with a diabetes specialist. Attorney Riddle presented evidence that even under the care of a specialist the client continued to have episodes of low blood sugar and loss of consciousness. Therefore Attorney Riddle argued that the premise by the Commonwealth, that this accident would not have occurred had the client been under the care of a doctor, was flawed. Attorney Damian N. Riddle argued that it was an accident caused by a medical emergency and did not amount to negligence.
The jury deliberated for eight hours over two days and returned verdicts of Not Guilty on both counts.