A Russian pianist and singer who once was Mel Gibson’s girlfriend is responsible for a freeway crash in Burbank that left a woman with lingering pain that bothers her to this day, an attorney told a jury Tuesday, but a defense attorney disputed whether all of the plaintiff’s symptoms are related to the 2015 collision.
The two lawyers gave their opening statements to a Los Angeles Superior Court jury tasked with deciding Meghan Watts’ negligence lawsuit against 48-year-old Oksana Grigorieva, who during a stormy relationship with Gibson bore him a daughter, accused him of physical abuse and eventually reached a settlement with the actor-director.
Watts’ lawyer, Steven Simons, told jurors that his client took the day off from her secretarial job at an appraiser’s office on Jan. 16, 2015, and was driving east on the Ventura (134) Freeway about 3 p.m. when she saw a freeway sign warning of an accident ahead. Watts slowed and eventually stopped, as did the driver of another car behind her, Simons said.
However, Grigorieva, driving behind the car that was trailing Watts’ car, failed to stop and hit the car ahead of her, pushing it forward into the plaintiff’s vehicle, Simons said.
The three drivers went their separate ways as a fire truck headed to the first accident that had caused the slowdown, Simons said. Watts went to her boyfriend’s home and spent the weekend, but by the following Monday, she had pain in her neck, lower back and right knee, Simon said.
Since then, Watts has been seen by both a chiropractor and a doctor, who tried treating her with injections into her neck, Simons said. Tuesday, she still has pain and cannot do things that she used to, including carrying bags of groceries and staying for long periods of time at a computer, Simons said.
Grigorieva’s lawyer, Rajeev Patel, said Watts initially complained of only neck pain, but later expanded her injury claim after seeing a chiropractor and an attorney.
Patel also said he does not believe some of Watts’ symptoms are related to the accident.
“We dispute what she likely will ask you to award her,” Patel said.
Grigorieva listened to the opening statements without showing any emotion.
She gave birth to Gibson’s daughter, Lucia, in October 2009. The couple ended their relationship a year later and Grigorieva filed a restraining order against the actor to keep him away from her and their child. Gibson also obtained a restraining order against Grigorieva on June 25, 2010.
In August 2011, Gibson settled with Grigorieva and she was awarded $750,000, joint legal custody and a house in Sherman Oaks to live with their daughter until she turns 18.