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Pennsylvania Verdicts

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Plaintiff asserted sideswipe aggravated spine condition

Amount:

$250,000

Type:

Verdict-Plaintiff

State:

Pennsylvania

Venue:

Philadelphia County

Court:

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas

Injury Type(s):

back-lower back; neck; neck-bulging disc, cervical; neck-herniated disc (herniated disc at C3-4), cervical (herniated disc at C3-4); neck-disc protrusion, cervical; other-ablation; other-chiropractic; other-massage therapy; other-physical therapy; other-epidural injections; other-foraminectomy/foraminotomy; other-aggravation of pre-existing condition; neurological-radiculopathy; neurological-radicular pain / radiculitis; surgeries/treatment-laminotomy

Case Type:

Motor Vehicle - Sideswipe, Right Turn, Multiple Vehicle, Negligent Entrustment

Case Name:

Miriam Thompson v. Mike Gatea and KB Electric LLC, No. 151100384

Date:

December 20, 2016

Parties

Plaintiff(s):

Miriam Thompson (Female, 40s)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Andrew L. Baron; Simon & Simon, PC; Philadelphia, PA, for Miriam Thompson

Plaintiff Expert(s):

Lance Yarus; D.O.; Orthopedic Surgery; Philadelphia, PA called by: Andrew L. Baron

Defendant(s):

Mike Gatea

Defense Attorney(s):

Gregory F. Mondjack Sr.; Law Offices of Kenneth S. O'Neill; Philadelphia, PA, for Mike Gatea

Defendant Expert(s):

Joseph Bernstein; Orthopedic Surgery; Philadelphia, PA called by: Gregory F. Mondjack Sr. ■ Jennifer Frabizzio; Neuroradiology; Abington, PA called by: Gregory F. Mondjack Sr.

Insurer(s):

Allstate Insurance Co.

Facts:

On March 19, 2015, plaintiff Miriam Thompson, in her mid-40s, was sideswiped on Spruce Street at 11th Street, in Center City, Philadelphia. She had been traveling in the right lane of Spruce Street when her 2001 Oldsmobile sedan was struck by a Ford Econoline van which had been in the left lane and attempted to turn right at the intersection. She claimed neck and back injuries. Thompson sued the van's driver, Mike Gatea, alleging negligence. She also sued his employer, KB Electric LLC, because Gatea was driving in the course of his employment, alleging negligent entrustment. KB Electric was voluntarily dismissed, prior to trial. Gatea stipulated to negligence, and the case was tried on issues of causation and damages.

Injury:

On March 26, Thompson, complaining of neck and low-back pain, presented to a chiropractic facility, where she treated for two visits. She then presented to a rehabilitation facility, where she had previously treated for back injuries from a slip and fall, and underwent physical therapy (e.g., massage) through July. Thompson asserted that the accident had aggravated her pre-existing back condition. MRIs allegedly showed a herniation at cervical intervertebral disc C3-4, bulges at C2-3 and C6-7, and protrusions at C4-5 and C5-6. An EMG allegedly showed right-sided radiculopathy stemming from C5-6. In December, Thompson, with continued complaints, presented to a pain-management specialist, who administered a series of epidural injections of a steroid-based painkiller to her cervical and lumbar spine and a radiofrequency ablation at C6-7 (in January 2016). On March 14, 2016, Thompson underwent decompression surgery at C5-6: a laminotomy (removal of part of the lamina, the bone plates on the posterior of the vertebrae, enclosing the spinal cord) and a foraminotomy (enlargement of the foramin - the opening of the vertebrae for the spinal nerves -- to provide room for the spinal nerves). No further treatment was rendered, and she sought to recover $32,000 in outstanding medical costs. Thompson's expert in orthopedic surgery causally related her injuries and treatment to the accident. She has a guarded prognosis and may require additional treatment, including physical therapy and potentially surgery. Thompson, who had been disabled and received Social Security disability benefits, testified that she had nearly returned to her baseline condition and that she was considering returning to her job as a certified nursing assistant, but the accident prevented her from doing so. Her neck and back cause her difficulty bending, lifting, and performing household chores. She sought damages for past and future pain and suffering. The defense's expert in orthopedic surgery, who examined Thompson, opined that the disc protrusions and herniation were degenerative in nature and not caused by the accident. The expert testified that Thompson's surgery was unrelated to the accident at issue. According to the physician, there was no objective evidence of injury from the collision, and at most she may have had suffered a sprain/strain. Gatea's expert in neuroradiology, who reviewed Thompson's MRIs, testified that all findings were degenerative and unrelated to the collision. The expert concluded that all disc abnormalities were longstanding and non-traumatic in nature.

Result:

The jury found that Gatea's negligence was a factual cause of injury to Thompson, who was determined to receive $250,000.

Trial Information:

Judge:

Paula A. Patrick

Demand:

$175,000

Offer:

None reported

Trial Length:

2  days

Trial Deliberations:

45  minutes

Editor's Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff's counsel. Defense counsel did not respond to the reporter's phone calls.