Case details

Defense: Car crash could not have caused the injuries alleged





Result type

Not present

back, herniated disc, neck
On Aug. 11, 2016, plaintiff Grace McIntosh, 36, a school psychologist, was driving on Sutton Way, in Grass Valley, when she stopped for a red light at the intersection with Brunswick Road. A vehicle operated by Alysha Dieteren then stopped behind McIntosh’s vehicle. When the light turned green, McIntosh’s vehicle was rear-ended by Dieteren’s vehicle. McIntosh claimed to her back and neck. McIntosh sued Alysha Dieteren and the owner of Dieteren’s vehicle, William Dieteren. McIntosh alleged that Ms. Dieteren was negligent in the operation of her vehicle and that Mr. Dieteren was vicariously liable for Ms. Dieteren’s actions. Mr. Dieteren was ultimately dismissed from the case. McIntosh’s counsel contended that Ms. Dieteren became momentarily distracted while reaching for her car stereo and that Dieteren’s inattention caused the crash. Dieteren did not dispute liability., McIntosh claimed she sustained herniated discs at the C5-6 and C6-7 levels, and a sacroiliac joint injury. McIntosh presented to an urgent care clinic six days after the accident. She then underwent physical therapy and began chiropractic treatment around two months later after the accident. McIntosh later had a pain management consultation, after which McIntosh had three rounds of epidural steroid injections in her lumbar spine that provided her with temporary pain relief each time. The plaintiff’s treating orthopedic surgeon diagnosed McIntosh with herniated discs at C5-6 and C6-7. Although early into McIntosh’s physical therapy treatment the expert believed a herniated lumbar disc at the L5-S1 level was symptomatic, the expert ultimately diagnosed McIntosh with a sacroiliac joint injury after she complained about her sacroiliac joint. McIntosh contended that she will eventually require a sacroiliac joint fusion and a two-level cervical fusion. During trial, two character witnesses testified that, besides being an exceptional school psychologist, McIntosh rarely missed work. However, McIntosh claimed that after the accident, she missed more than 350 hours of work because of her pain and various appointments, for which she was forced to use flex time, vacation and sick time. She also claimed that her caused her and her husband to delay starting a family. She further claimed that her caused her to give up her hobbies, such as being a long-time ballroom dancer and an avid hiker. McIntosh sought recovery of $31,942.88 in past medical expenses, $17,523.11 in lost wages, $150,000 in damages for her past pain and suffering, $201,546.31 in future medical costs, and $225,000 in damages for her future pain and suffering. Her husband, Joshua McIntosh, initially sought recovery for his loss of consortium, but is claim was dismissed before the trial began. Defense counsel argued that the impact was insufficient to cause Ms. McIntosh’s alleged . The defense’s accident reconstruction and biomechanics experts opined that the impact occurred at 10 mph with a change in velocity of 5 mph, which could conceivably cause soft tissue . However, the expert opined that the impact would be insufficient to cause any spinal . According to defense counsel, a neurosurgeon McIntosh saw at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, in San Francisco, and the defense’s retained expert neurosurgeon both testified that they did not see any evidence of that would require an anterior or posterior lumbar fusion. Defense counsel also pointed out that not as much treatment had been performed on McIntosh’s alleged neck and that most of the treatment thus far had been for McIntosh’s lower back.
Superior Court of Nevada County, Nevada City, CA

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