Case details

Defense claimed minor crash could not cause alleged injuries





Result type

Not present

back, lower back, neck
On Nov. 18, 2007, plaintiff Mayra Xocoy, 30, a nanny, was driving a 1992 Mercedes Benz 300SE, owned by plaintiff Gilbert Valenzuela, 62, on northbound Lake Street in Glendale, when the vehicle was rear-ended by a 1999 Honda Civic operated by Juan Romero at the intersection with Irving Street. Xocoy claimed soft-tissue from the crash and Valenzuela sought recovery for the damage to his vehicle. Xocoy and Valenzuela sued Romero and the believed owner of the Honda, Chris Betancourt. They initially alleged that Romero was negligent in the operation of the vehicle and that Betancourt was vicariously liable for his actions. However, prior to trial, Betancourt was dismissed from the case after it was established that she did not own the Honda. Xocoy claimed she stopped for a stop sign at the intersection with Irving Street, intending to make a left turn, when the collision occurred. The accident was neither reported to, nor investigated by, any police agency. No emergency personnel were summoned to the scene either. There were also no independent witnesses to the accident. Romero alleged that prior to the accident, he was traveling behind Xocoy at a safe distance at a speed of only 5 to 10 mph and that there was no stop sign at the intersection for northbound traffic on Lake Street. Thus, he claimed that the accident occurred after Xocoy commenced a left turn at the intersection and then swerved back into the northbound lane of Lake Street, cutting off his stopping distance. Romero claimed that Xocoy then made a sudden stop for no apparent reason, causing his vehicle to “tap” the rear of Xocoy’s vehicle at a speed of 5 mph or less., Xocoy alleged that she sustained soft-tissue to her neck, left non-dominant wrist and her lower back. She treated with a chiropractor on 18 occasions over a four month period, receiving chiropractic care and physical therapy. Her medical expenses came to $3,440. Xocoy claimed that she had residual , but that she did suffer any loss of earnings. Valenzuela sought recovery of damages for property damage and the loss of use of his vehicle. Je claimed that the rear and various parts of the vehicle were damaged, requiring extensive repairs. Specifically, he claimed that his vehicle suffered broken motor mounts, a cracked transmission housing, and damage to other miscellaneous mechanical and electrical components, as well as sustained damage to the rear bumper. Valenzuela alleged that the repair costs came to $9,595.43 and sought recovery of an additional $4,000 in damages for the loss of use of his vehicle for over the four months. Defense counsel argued that the minor nature of the accident could not have caused any to Xocoy or property damage to Valenzuela’s vehicle. The defense’s expert orthopedic surgeon testified that medical services allegedly rendered to Xocoy were neither reasonable nor necessary. Defense counsel contended that Xocoy testified in her deposition that all of her had resolved in one month, but noted that Xocoy claimed she had treated her alleged for over four months. The defense’s biomechanical expert testified that the forces involved in the accident were minor and within the forces a person would experience in their everyday activities. Defense counsel also argued that the accident did not cause any damage to Valenzuela’s vehicle, and that all the alleged repairs were either not performed or were unrelated to the accident. Counsel produced photographs of Valenzuela’s vehicle taken before the accident and photographs of the vehicle seven months after the alleged repairs were performed. Defense counsel noted that while Valenzuela testified the rear bumper was replaced, the before and after photographs depicted the same paint chip and scuff marks on the bumper. The defense’s biomechanical expert also testified that the alleged repairs to Valenzuela’s vehicle, which was 15 years-old and had over 200,000 miles on the odometer, were unrelated to the accident. In addition, Romero testified that, following the accident, there was no damage to his own vehicle and there were no noticeable damages to Valenzuela’s vehicle.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Glendale, CA

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