Case details

Car crash necessitated two neck surgeries, plaintiff claimed





Result type

Not present

aggravation of pre-existing condition, back, neck
On June 9, 2015, plaintiff Tom Bennett, 48, was driving on the southbound side of Hawthorne Boulevard, near its intersection at 242nd Street, in Torrance. As he entered the intersection, the front left section of his pickup truck collided with the passenger side of a sedan operated by Marina Espinoza, who entered the intersection from the right-turn lane of the westbound side of 242nd Street. Bennett claimed to his neck and back. Bennett sued Espinoza, alleging that Espinoza was negligent in the operation of her vehicle. Bennett claimed that Espinoza drove directly in front of his vehicle, causing him to hit the side of her sedan. Espinoza admitted liability, and the matter proceeded to a trial that addressed causation and damages., After the crash, Bennett immediately took his daughter, who was in the car with him, to the doctor. He then presented to his own orthopedist later that day. Bennett had recently undergone lower back surgery, and he claimed the crash aggravated his prior lumbar spine injury. He also claimed a new rupture of a cervical disc at the C4-5 level. Bennett underwent a course of conservative treatment, including pain medication and physical therapy. He also received two epidural injections to his lumbar spine in 2016 and another three lumbar epidural injections in 2018. In September 2017, Bennett underwent disc replacement surgery on his neck. Approximately five months later, in February 2018, he underwent a foraminotomy, which involved the enlargement of a passage that housed a spinal nerve. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that Bennett may need a cervical fusion or an adjacent-level disc replacement surgery in the future. Counsel also contended that Bennett might require a decompression or fusion surgery to his lower back. Bennett’s attorney attributed 50 percent of the cause of the potential lumbar surgery to the subject accident. Bennett had previously worked as a member of an audio production crew. However, he was out of work recovering from his back surgery at the time of the subject accident. He claimed that after the crash, he had to quit his job entirely and start his own business. He alleged that this led to a loss of earnings. Bennett further claimed that he can no longer go biking or kayaking and that he can’t play with his young daughters the way he wants to. Bennett sought recovery of past and future medical expenses, past and future lost earnings, and damages for his past and future pain and suffering. According to defense counsel, Bennett’s attorney asked the jury to award Bennett $2,364,934. Defense counsel disputed the lost-earnings claim, arguing that it was unclear whether Bennett would have ever returned to his old job, regardless of the subject car accident. Defense counsel also disputed the reasonableness of Bennett’s medical bills, and the amount of Bennett’s pain and suffering. Counsel noted that most of Bennett’s initial treatment was to his back, which Bennett had injured before the accident, and not to Bennett’s neck, and that Bennett had complained of pain in his neck prior to the crash. In addition, defense counsel presented surveillance video that supposedly showed Bennett lifting and picking up items. Based on the video, defense counsel argued that Bennett’s were not that severe.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Pasadena, CA

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