Case details

Car illegally crossing into HOV lane caused crash: motorcyclist





Result type

Not present

fracture, leg, nerve damage, neurological, neuropathy, radicular pain, radiculitis, reflex sympathetic
On Oct. 19, 2015, plaintiff Michael Orrin, 35, a lighting technician, was motorcycling in the northbound, high occupancy vehicle lane of Interstate 405, also known as the San Diego Freeway, in Los Angeles. He was struck by a rental car operated by Ananth Sundaralingam, who was attempting to merge from the number one lane (also known as the left lane or passing lane) to the HOV lane to his left. Orrin was ejected from his motorcycle, and he sustained of his right leg. Orrin sued Sundaralingam, alleging that Sundaralingam was negligent in the operation of his vehicle. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that Sundaralingam caused the crash by attempting to merge into the HOV lane by illegally crossing the double yellow lines. Defense counsel contended that Orrin was lane sharing. However, Judge Patrick Madden found no evidence of negligence on the party of Orrin, and Madden excluded the jury instruction on contributory liability., Orrin sustained fractures of his right leg’s tibia and fibula. He was taken by ambulance to UCLA Medical Center, in Santa Monica, where he underwent surgical repair by reducing the fracture and placing a metal rod with screws in the tibia. Orrin claimed that he suffered nerve damage as a result of the fractures, causing him to develop chronic regional pain syndrome, also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy or causalgia, a chronic pain condition, in his lower, right leg. He also claimed that the nerve damage caused pain to radiate from his right leg into his back and that, as a result, he required lumbar sympathetic nerve blocks at the L2-3 level. Orrin further claimed that the nerve blocks only provided temporary relief, as pain continued to radiate from his right leg into his back, so he had a trial spinal cord stimulator placed. He ultimately had a permanent implant placed on Dec. 15, 2017. Plaintiff’s counsel noted that the defense’s pain medicine expert agreed with all of Orrin’s experts regarding the treatment that Orrin received and also agreed that the treatment was reasonable. Orrin claimed that he still has some restrictions, such as being limited in how much weight he can hold and carry, but that he has been able to return to work. He also claimed that the spinal cord stimulator is helping to relieve most of the pain, but that he will need periodic replacement of the batteries and/or stimulator every five to seven years. Orrin sought recovery of past and future medical costs, past and future lost earnings, and damages for past and future pain and suffering. Plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award Orrin $4.8 million in total damages. Defense counsel contended that Orrin’s alleged past and future medical costs were too high and unreasonable. Counsel also contended that Orrin’s condition was resolved since Orrin was able to return to work and ride his motorcycle. Defense counsel argued that Orrin should have done more to mitigate his damages. The defense claimed that Orrin did not need to have the surgery for the spinal cord stimulator, as it was unnecessary, and that Orrin should have, instead, continued taking the anticonvulsant Gabapentin for his nerve pain.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Long Beach, CA

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