Case details

Crash did not cause plaintiff’s shoulder injury, defense argued





Result type

Not present

injury, rotator cuff, shoulder, tear
On the afternoon of Sept. 18, 2009, at approximately 2 p.m., plaintiff George Hyrcenko, 70, a ranch operator, was driving an off-road vehicle in the far right lane of Wilshire Boulevard in West Los Angeles when he entered the intersection with Federal Avenue and collided with a sport utility vehicle operated by Shawn Scranton, who was attempting a right turn from the middle lane of Wilshire Boulevard. Both vehicles were traveling approximately 15 mph at the time of the accident and no police report was taken at the scene. Hyrcenko claimed an injury to his left shoulder as a result of the accident. Hyrcenko sued Scranton, alleging the defendant was negligent in the operation of his SUV. Hyrcenko claimed that he intended to proceed straight through the intersection, but that Scranton attempted a negligent right turn from the middle lane. He claimed that as a result, there was an impact between the front, left bumper of his vehicle and rear, right bumper of Scranton’s vehicle. Scranton admitted liability for the accident, and the parties stipulated to an expedited jury trial on damages., Hyrcenko drove himself home from the scene of the accident. He was later referred to a chiropractor and then to an orthopedist for an MRI, which was taken 12 days after the accident and which revealed a full thickness rotator cuff tear of his left, non-dominant shoulder. Hyrcenko subsequently followed up with physical therapy. Hyrcenko claimed his rotator cuff tear still causes him pain and discomfort, and that his condition prevents him from doing manual labor or work as a ranch hand. He claimed that as a result, it has been costing him $15,000 a year in additional costs to operate his ranch. He also claimed he requires shoulder surgery. Thus, Hyrcenko sought $9,000 in past medical costs, $60,000 in past lost earnings, $14,348 in future medical costs, and between $5,000 and $7,500 in future lost earnings. Plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award Hyrcenko in the range of $150,000 and $170,000 in total damages, including damages for Hyrcenko’s pain and suffering. Defense counsel disputed the causation of Hyrcenko’s torn rotator cuff. Counsel argued that two years before the subject accident, in 2007, Hyrcenko treated for a left shoulder condition with a “tearing sensation” after he injured himself lifting a bale of hay. Counsel also argued that in 2008, Hyrcenko returned to the hospital after re- his left shoulder by jumping off a pick-up truck and that the injury was diagnosed as a torn rotator cuff that Hyrcenko treated with three months of physical therapy. In response, Hyrcenko claimed that his left shoulder was weakened, but not torn, by the two prior incidents, which made it more susceptible to tearing. He also claimed that he was asymptomatic and had fully recovered between February 2009 and September 2009, when the collision occurred. The plaintiff’s treating orthopedic expert testified that there was no physician’s diagnosis of a rotator cuff tear noted in Hyrcenko’s prior medical records. However, during cross-examination, the expert was asked to read a 2008 physical therapy prescription signed by Hyrcenko’s treating physician, which diagnosed a left rotator cuff tear.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Santa Monica, CA

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