Case details

Defense claimed plaintiff’s elbow issues were pre-existing





Result type

Not present

back, cervical, elbow, fracture, lumbar, neck, sprain, strain
On Nov. 14, 2014, plaintiff Fern Carrasquillo, 54, a government office employee, was waiting for traffic to clear before attempting to make a right turn from a parking lot onto Valley View Street, in Cypress. At the same time, Jacob Neustel was traveling south on Valley View Street when the front of his sport utility vehicle was struck by the right, front corner of a third vehicle, a sedan driven by Michael Butala, which was attempting a left turn from a left-turn lane on northbound Valley View Street. The Neustel vehicle then bounced off the Butala vehicle and collided with Carrasquillo’s stopped SUV. Carrasquillo claimed to her neck, back, and right elbow, shoulder and wrist. Carrasquillo sued Michael Butala; Jacob Neustel; and the owner of the Neustel vehicle, Marilyn Neustel. Carrasquillo claimed that Butala and Mr. Neustel were negligent in the operation of their respective vehicles and that Ms. Neustel was vicariously liable for Mr. Neustel’s actions. While Carrasquillo sued the operators of both vehicles, her counsel argued at trial that Butala was primarily liable because he made a left turn in front of the Neustel vehicle. The Neustels’ counsel similarly argued that Butala failed to make sure traffic was clear before attempting his turn. Butala maintained that stopped and checked for traffic before executing the turn, but that he thought the Neustel vehicle was a safe distance away. Butala’s counsel argued that Mr. Neustel should have allowed Butala to complete his turn and that Mr. Neustel was going too fast for the traffic conditions., Carrasquillo complained of sprains and strains, causing pain in her neck, lower back, right shoulder and right wrist. She also claimed she sustained a fracture of her right, dominant elbow. However, she did not go to a hospital from the scene. While Carrasquillo had previously fractured her right elbow in a fall and subsequently underwent surgery on her elbow, she claimed the crash caused a new fracture in a similar area. Following the crash, she underwent a second surgery to remove the hardware that had been placed during the previous elbow surgery. Carrasquillo was also undergoing physical therapy for her elbow at the time of the collision. She continued that therapy following the crash. Carrasquillo claimed that she had to miss some work as a result of the crash. She also claimed that when she did return to work, she required extra help in the office. She alleged that as a result, her future earning capacity was affected. She also alleged that her elbow injury made it hard for her to take care of her child and her elderly mother and that she will need a third surgery to the elbow as a result of the collision. Carrasquillo sought recovery of past and future medical expenses, past and future lost earnings, and damages for her past and future pain and suffering. Butala’s counsel argued that Carrasquillo did not sustain a new elbow fracture in the crash and that Carrasquillo’s continued complaints were the result of her prior fall.
Superior Court of Orange County, Santa Ana, CA

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