Case details

Collision aggravated prior pain condition, plaintiff claimed





Result type

Not present

aggravation of pre-existing condition, neck
On Sept. 19, 2008, plaintiff Cynthia Mariano, 48, a housewife, was driving on Bernal Drive in Pleasanton when she entered the intersection with Hearst Drive and struck a vehicle operated by Christie Frakes, who was traveling northwest on Hearst Drive. Mariano claimed the accident aggravated her long-term complaints of neck and left arm symptoms. Mariano sued Frakes, alleging the defendant was negligent in the operation of her vehicle. Specifically, Mariano contended that Frakes failed to yield at the stop sign on Hearst Drive, located at the subject intersection. Thus, she claimed Frakes failed to yield to her right of way in violation of California Vehicle Code § 22450. Frakes conceded negligence., Mariano testified that she initially felt shock at the scene, but developed neck pain later in the day. She subsequently went to her family doctor and then followed up with her treating orthopedic surgeon. Mariano ultimately underwent a course of physical therapy. The plaintiff’s treating orthopedic surgeon testified that the accident sufficiently flared up Mariano’s neck and arm pain, such that he believed Mariano warranted a three-level fusion of her neck. According to the physician, the surgery had not previously been a consideration. In addition, the plaintiff’s neurosurgery expert testified that the plaintiff’s arm complaints would benefit from surgery. Thus, Mariano sought recovery of $330,000 in total damages, including $4,613.49 in past medical costs and $75,000 in future surgery costs. The defense’s neurosurgery expert, who had examined the plaintiff, opined that Mariano probably was not injured at all and that if she was, it was a temporary strain that had resolved. The expert also opined that since Mariano had no clinically significant findings on exam, it was likely a surgery would harm her and not make her better. Thus, defense counsel asked the jury to render a defense verdict, but in the event harm was found, counsel asked the jury to award Mariano either $90.15 for a single doctor’s visit or $2,500 in total damages, depending whether the jury thought Mariano’s need for therapy was accident-related.
Superior Court of Alameda County, Oakland, CA

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