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Driver claimed shoulder and knee injures, disc protrusion

Amount:

$299,109

Type:

Verdict-Plaintiff

State:

Texas

Venue:

Dallas County

Court:

Dallas County District Court, 193rd

Injury Type(s):

back-sprain, lumbar;
back-strain, lumbar;
back-disc protrusion, thoracic;
knee-knee contusion; neck-sprain, cervical;
neck-strain, cervical;
other-buttocks; other-soft tissue; other-chiropractic; other-physical therapy; other-epidural injections; shoulder; epidermis-paresthesia; neurological-radicular pain / radiculitis

Case Type:

Motor Vehicle – Rear-ender, Multiple Vehicle

Case Name:

Lee Contreras v. Bowles Sand & Gravel Inc., d/b/a Buffalo Concrete of Texas,
No. DC-16-12721

Date:

June 15, 2018

Parties

Plaintiff(s):

Lee Contreras (Male, 36 Years)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

David Salazar;
The Salazar Law Firm;
Houston,
TX,
for
Lee Contreras ■ Jose R. Guerrero;
The Salazar Law Firm;
Houston,
TX,
for
Lee Contreras

Plaintiff Expert(s):

Sam Lafell; D.C.; Chiropractic; Dallas,
TX called by:
David Salazar, Jose R. Guerrero ■ Kenneth Choi; M.D.; Pain Management; Dallas,
TX called by:
David Salazar, Jose R. Guerrero

Defendant(s):

Bowles Sand & Gravel Inc.

Defense Attorney(s):

Barbara M. Pelaez;
The Bassett Firm;
Dallas,
TX,
for
Bowles Sand & Gravel Inc.

Defendant Expert(s):

Monte Horne;
Chiropractic;
Sulphur Springs,
TX called by:
Barbara M. Pelaez ■ Thomas Kleuser;
Orthopedic Surgery;
Fort Worth,
TX called by:
Barbara M. Pelaez

Insurer(s):

Progressive Casualty Insurance Co.

Facts:

On June 20, 2016, plaintiff Lee Contreras, 35, a material handler at a warehouse, was driving a 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck north in the right lane of Riverfront Boulevard in Dallas. He came to a stop at the light at Justice Center and was rear-ended by a cement mixer owned by the driver’s employer, Buffalo Concrete of Texas. Contreras claimed neck, back and knee injuries. Contreras sued Bowles Sand & Gravel Inc., operating as Buffalo Concrete, for its driver’s negligent failure to keep a proper lookout; failure to control his speed; and failure to brake or turn in time to avoid the collision, as well as for following too closely. Bowles stipulated to liability.

Injury:

Contreras went to an urgent-care center the next day and later followed up with various doctors. He claimed neck and back strains and sprains; a disc protrusion at T9-10; radicular pain and paresthesia in the buttocks and right shoulder; and a left knee contusion. He underwent physical therapy and manipulations with a chiropractor consistently from June 23, 2016, to July 21, 2017, and was still treating occasionally at the time of trial. Lumbar and cervical MRI reports contained no significant findings. A thoracic MRI was read as showing a 1-millimeter focal central protrusion at T9-10. In September 2016, he underwent a medial branch block at right C5, C6 and C7, followed by radiofrequency thermocoagulation. In February 2017, he underwent a medial branch block at right L3, L4 and L5, followed by radiofrequency thermocoagulation. He underwent epidural steroid injections at T9-10 in March, April and July 2017. In August, he underwent facet injections at T10-11 and T11-12. He testified that he wears an electrical stimulation unit for his daily commute, which is 40 minutes each way. He said he can no longer play competitive volleyball and softball or pick up and play with his small child. One of the pain management doctors testified at trial, saying that the injections and their cost were reasonable and necessary and related to the accident. He sought $124,109 for past medical expenses; $100,000 for future medical expenses; $50,000 for past physical pain; $50,000 for future physical pain; $50,000 for past mental anguish; $50,000 for future mental anguish; $50,000 for past physical impairment; and $50,000 for future physical impairment. He also sought past and future disfigurement. The defense introduced a counteraffidavit from a chiropractic expert and called an orthopedic surgery expert live. The orthopedic surgeon opined that the injuries were only strains and sprains and a mild knee contusion. The MRIs were not indicated and contained no clinically significant findings, he said. He opined that the MRI charges, which totaled $10,093, were excessive, and that $300 to $500 each would have been reasonable. He also said that the charges for the injections were excessive. He said that the chiropractic care went on for too long, and that there was no support for Lee’s claim that his ongoing complaints were related to the accident. The defense chiropractor opined that the treating chiropractor’s bills, which totaled a little more than $19,000, were excessive. The defense also noted that the plaintiff’s expert had a letter of protection and financial interest in the outcome of the case. Defense counsel argued that Contreras’ injuries were job-related or degenerative in nature.

Result:

The jury awarded Contreras $299,109.

Lee Contreras: $124,109 Personal Injury: Past Medical Cost; $70,000 Personal Injury: Future Medical Cost; $20,000 Personal Injury: Past Physical Impairment; $20,000 Personal Injury: Future Physical Impairment; $15,000 Personal Injury: future mental anguish; $15,000 Personal Injury: past physical pain; $20,000 Personal Injury: future physical pain; $15,000 Personal Injury: past mental anguish

Trial Information:

Judge:

Carl Ginsberg

Trial Length:

4
 days

Trial Deliberations:

5
 hours

Jury Vote:

12-0

Editor’s Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff’s and defense counsel.