Case details

Defense claimed plaintiff’s condition tied to prior brain traumas





Result type

Not present

brain, traumatic brain injury
At around 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 4, 2013, plaintiff William Longman, 78, was driving north on 10th Street West, in Palmdale, when his 2014 Kia Forte EX was rear-ended by a 2007 Toyota Camry operated by Alicia Pena. Longman claimed to his head, shoulder and neck. Longman sued Pena, alleging that Pena was negligent in the operation of her vehicle. Longman told the investigating officer that the car in front of him stopped abruptly at the intersection with Rancho Vista Boulevard, so he braked hard to avoid a collision and was then struck from behind by Pena’s vehicle, which was traveling behind him. Pena admitted liability., Longman claimed he suffered a traumatic brain injury, a neck sprain and strain, and an injury to a shoulder as a result of the accident. He testified that he was not knocked unconscious as a result of the impact and that his air bags did not deploy, but that after he got out of his vehicle and was leaning down to look at it, he became unsteady. He claimed that he felt himself falling, so two people grabbed him and placed him down on the grass. Longman alleged that he then lost consciousness for an unknown period of time and that the police and paramedics were there by the time he awoke. As a result, he was taken to a hospital. Longman later treated at Allied Physical Medicine, in Lancaster, 25 times between Dec. 10, 2013 and Feb. 26, 2014. He underwent an ultrasound, and treatment included the use of hot packs, electrical muscle stimulation, chiropractic adjustments, and mechanical traction. Longman had been an enrolled agent with the IRS for 48 years and he claimed that at the time of the accident, he was still working about 30 hours a week in that capacity, earning $26,400 a year. However, he claimed he did not return to work after the accident due to his medical condition. Longman further claimed that he will eventually need a cervical laminectomy to treat his neck injury. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that Longman’s pre-Howell medical costs totaled $56,108.81 and that the post-Howell medical costs totaled $38,620.83. Thus, Longman sought recovery for his past and future medical costs, including approximately $85,000 for the future cervical laminectomy; $52,800 in lost wages; and an unspecified amount of damages for his past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel noted that Longman had a significant history of intracranial hemorrhages. In 1953, Longman was involved in a plane crash, which left him blind for 2.5 years. He subsequently underwent 35 operations, including six procedures on the left eye and 29 on the right eye. Longman also sustained a concussion in 2002, when he was running and ran into an archway, causing him to be unconscious for approximately four or five days. As a result, he could not walk for a year. Thus, defense counsel argued that Longman’s current difficulties have to do with visual processing, and are not related to the subject collision. The defense’s neuropsychology expert opined that there was no evidence of a head injury occurring as a result of the subject crash. After examining Longman and reviewing the available records, the expert opined that testing showed no evidence of a dementing condition or mild cognitive impairment. Thus, the expert opined that if Longman has chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), it would have been caused by the prior brain traumas sustained from the 1953 plane crash and the 2002 subdural hematoma, and not from the subject accident. The defense’s neurology expert agreed with the explanation that Longman’s condition was caused by the prior traumatic events and not from the most recent accident. On examination, the expert found some cognitive deficits on mental status testing, some deficits on testing of the cranial nerves and visual issues with the right eye, and sensory neuropathy, all of which he opined were not caused by the subject collision. In this expert’s opinion, Longman’s complaints were due to his pre-existing conditions, which were caused by his frontal temporal dementia, the prior plane crash accident, and his type II diabetes, respectively. The defense’s neuroradiology expert opined that Longman has severe degenerative changes compatible with his age and that none of the films he reviewed demonstrated an anatomic injury. The expert further testified that he found that Longman had also previously had a stroke that predated the subject accident.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Lancaster, CA

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