Case details

Broadside crash caused permanent brain injury: plaintiff





Result type

Not present

back, brain, brain damage, brain injury, cervical, chest, cognition, depression, fracture, herniated disc, impairment, lumbar, lumbar head, mental, neck, psychological, rib, subarachnoid hemorrhage, traumatic brain injury
On May 22, 2015, plaintiff Isidro Guadalupe, 49, a dispatcher, stopped for a red traffic light on northbound Arrowmill Avenue, at the intersection with East Washington Boulevard, in Commerce. When the light turned green, he entered the intersection and was broadsided by an 18-wheel commercial truck operated by Anselo Figueroa. Guadalupe sustained to his head, chest, neck and back. Guadalupe sued Figueroa and Figueroa’s employer, American Eagle Transport Inc. Guadalupe alleged that Figueroa was negligent in the operation of his truck and that American Eagle Transport was vicariously liable for Figueroa’s actions while driving in the course and scope of his employment. The defendants admitted liability at trial., Guadalupe sustained a fractured left rib, herniated cervical and lumbar discs, cervical facet at C2-3 and C5-6, a 5-inch head laceration, and a subarachnoid hemorrhage. He also claimed he sustained a complicated mild traumatic brain injury. Guadalupe was transported by ambulance to the emergency room at Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center, in Los Angeles, where he underwent a CT scan of the brain, which revealed a minor subarachnoid hemorrhage near the location of the 5-inch laceration. He contended the brain bleed was evidence of a brain injury. Guadalupe received sutures to close the laceration and he was released from the hospital the following day. He then started physical therapy at Huntington Park Health Center on Jan. 7, 2015, and received manipulations, traction, massages, electrical stimulation and hydrocollator pads. On Jan. 8, 2015, Guadalupe returned to LAC+USC Medical Center to have his stitches removed. At that time, he told the attending doctor that he “felt fine.” Guadalupe then underwent a series of medial branch blocks, and left and right rhizotomities at C5, C6 and C7. He also underwent a left L4-5 transpedicular discectomy with dissection of the left L4-5 nerve on Nov. 11, 2015. Guadalupe eventually underwent a brain MRI at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in Los Angeles, on Nov. 21, 2015, but it was normal. Guadalupe claimed that he suffers from a permanent, complicated mild traumatic brain injury, which has forever altered him and requires him to retire. He also claimed that he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and mild cognitive impairment as a result of his . During the course of his treatment, Guadalupe sought treatment with several experts in neurology and neuropsychology. The plaintiff’s expert neurologist diagnosed Guadalupe with a complicated mild traumatic brain injury and opined that the injury was a permanent, mild to moderate traumatic brain injury. Following his visits with the neurology expert, Guadalupe underwent neuropsychological testing with the plaintiff’s neuropsychology and psychology expert. The experts opined that Guadalupe suffered from severe depression and cognitive deficits. They also opined that Guadalupe will require between $130,000 and $154,000 in future treatment. Guadalupe sought recovery of over $247,000 in past medical costs, and between $130,000 and $154,000 in future medical treatment. He also sought recovery of past and future lost earnings, and damages for his past and future pain and suffering. During closing arguments, plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award Guadalupe between $9 million and $19 million. However, defense counsel claimed that during rebuttal, plaintiff’s counsel’s suggested that a verdict of $36 million would be reasonable. Defense counsel noted that Guadalupe’s neurology expert opined that the MRI was not normal and that it showed significant brain mass loss and axonal shearing, but that the expert’s testimony was contradicted by the defense’s medical experts, including one of the defense neuroradiology experts, Dr. Franklin Moser, who was the Cedars-Sinai neuroradiologist who initially reviewed the images. The defense’s expert neurology opined that Guadalupe’s brain MRI was normal. The expert also opined that if Guadalupe had a complicated mild traumatic brain injury, it ultimately resolved, noting that Guadalupe returned to his job as a dispatcher three weeks after the collision, without any modifications or difficulty performing his duties. The expert also opined that Guadalupe’s continued symptoms of anxiety and depression were not related to the mild traumatic brain injury and that Guadalupe’s psychological symptoms would have resolved had he taken medication for it. The defense’s neuropsychology expert testified that Guadalupe was a “poor historian” and that Guadalupe failed the validity indicators for the standardized psychometric test of adult personality and psychopathology, and test of memory malingering that were administered by the plaintiff’s own psychology and neuropsychology experts. The defense’s neuroradiology expert opined that the brain MRI was normal and that everything on the cervical and lumbar MRIs was degenerative and long standing. Defense counsel asked the jury to only award Guadalupe $100,000, if anything. In response, Guadalupe contested the defense’s claims that his brain injury had resolved and that he was malingering, claiming that he was not able to properly do his work and was considering retiring because of his permanent brain injury, neurocognitive deficits, severe depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Guadalupe’s contention was supported by the plaintiff’s expert neurologist.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Van Nuys, CA

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