Case details

Defense claimed plaintiff’s injuries caused by prior crash





Result type

Not present

neck, torticollis
On April 13, 2010, at approximately 11:15 a.m., plaintiff Debra Whitton, 50, a customer service representative for Home Depot, was driving east on Mira Mesa Boulevard in San Diego when a vehicle operated by Joann Whetstine attempted to turn left out of a parking lot, located on the north side of the street. As Whetstine’s vehicle entered eastbound Mira Mesa Boulevard, Whitton’s vehicle struck it. Whitton claimed to her neck, back and shoulders as a result of the collision. Whitton sued Whetstine. She alleged the defendant was negligent in the operation of her vehicle. Specifically, she claimed that Whetstine made a negligent turn out of the parking lot, causing the right front of Whetstine’s vehicle to strike the left fender of her vehicle. Whetstine admitted liability for the accident, and the matter proceeded to a trial on causation and damages., Whitton went to her treating physician two days after the accident with complaints of neck, back and shoulder pain. She was subsequently referred to a neurologist and orthopedic surgeon, and had MRIs of her cervical spine and both shoulders. Whitton was ultimately diagnosed with torticollis in her neck and a torn rotator cuff in her left shoulder, as well as soft tissue strains and sprains. As a result, she received Botox injections to her neck and trigger point injections to her right shoulder, which had some tearing prior to the accident. Whitton also treated with four weeks of physical therapy and seven months of chiropractic care. She then underwent arthroscopic surgery on her left shoulder in April 2012. Despite treatment, Whitton claimed she still experiences pain and discomfort in her neck, back and shoulder, for which she will seek indefinite treatment. She alleged that her work schedule was subsequently reduced from five days a week to four, and that she also missed time for surgery, recovery and appointments. Whitton also alleged that she can no longer engage in landscaping and other home improvements. Thus, Whitton claimed $31,000 in past medical costs, and sought recovery of $14,000 in damages for her past loss of earnings, as well as unspecified damages for her future medical costs and her past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel argued that Whitton did not sustain any serious injury from the accident, as the forces of the impact were minor and insufficient to cause a serious injury. Specifically, counsel contended that Whitton could not sustain a torn rotator cuff from the subject accident. In addition, defense counsel contended that in 2005, Whitton settled a worker’s compensation claim for a prior accident, and that all of her and symptoms pre-existed the 2010 accident in question and stemmed from the 2005 claim.
Superior Court of San Diego County, San Diego, CA

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