New Jersey Verdicts
Find out about the most important recent New Jersey cases, selected by VerdictSearch editors. Coverage includes Essex, Hudson and Middlesex counties.
Chain-reaction impacts left car passenger with neck condition
Atlantic County Superior Court
back-lower back neck-bulging disc, cervical;
neck-herniated disc (herniated disc at C3-4), cervical(herniated disc at C3-4);
neck-herniated disc(herniated disc at C5-6), cervical(herniated disc at C5-6);
other-physical therapy; other-epidural injections; neurological-radiculopathy
Insurance – Coverage; Motor Vehicle – Passenger, Rear-ender, Multiple Impact, Multiple Vehicle, Underinsured Motorist
Michele Davis v. Allstate Insurance Co.,
January 19, 2017
Michele Davis (Female, 41 Years)
The Law Firm of Christopher A. Brown;
Allstate Insurance Co.
Law Offices of Pamela D. Hargrove;
Allstate Insurance Co.
On Aug. 27, 2008, plaintiff Michele Davis, 41, was a rear-seat passenger in a Nissan Altima traveling on Delilah Road in Egg Harbor Township. When the car was waiting to enter an intersection, it was struck from behind by a vehicle driven by Ginnie Dawson. The impact caused the Altima to strike a vehicle stopped in front of it. Davis claimed injuries to her neck and back. Dawson agreed to tender her full insurance policy, of $15,000. Davis sued her insurer, Allstate Insurance Co., seeking payment of underinsured motorist benefits. Although the suit was against Allstate, the case caption was amended prior to trial to Davis v. Dawson, to prevent a prejudiced jury verdict. Liability was not in dispute.
Davis was taken by ambulance to the emergency room of AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, where she was examined and released later that day. Davis was ultimately diagnosed with a cervical intervertebral disc herniation at C3-4 and a disc bulge at C4-5. Following EMG studies, she was diagnosed with radiculopathy stemming from vertebra C5 and radiating into her upper extremities. Davis initially complained of low-back pain but was not diagnosed with any discernible lumbar spine injury. Several years after the collision, Davis was diagnosed with a C5-6 disc herniation, which she believes resulted from the 2008 collision. Davis initially treated with her family physician and underwent eight months of physical therapy. She received two epidural injection of a steroid-based painkiller at the cervical spine. A neurosurgeon recommended spinal surgery. She had not undergone any surgical procedure by the time of trial. Davis complains of chronic neck pain, which she claims makes caring for her elderly grandmother very difficult. Her treating neurosurgeon testified in a video deposition that Davis’ disc herniations and disc bulge were traumatically induced by the 2008 collision. Allstate disputed damages, arguing that Davis’ cervical conditions were entirely pre-existing and had no relation to the 2008 collision. Allstate’s expert orthopedic surgeon testified that Davis’ disc pathology was the result of longstanding degeneration.
The jury found that Davis sustained a permanent injury from the collision. She was awarded $1.2 million in unspecified damages.
James P. Savio
This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff’s counsel. Defense counsel declined to contribute.