Case details

Defense claimed plaintiff’s injury was not caused by crash





Result type

Not present

back, disc protrusion, fusion, lumbar
On Nov. 7, 2013, plaintiff Benjamin Green, 35, a driver and laborer, was operating his employer’s tanker truck when it was rear-ended by a delivery truck operated by Reineiro Alzugaray. There were no immediate complaints at the scene and both drivers left after exchanging information. However, Green later claimed to his back. Green sued Alzugaray and the owner of the truck, JBI, LLC, which was Alzugaray’s employer. Green alleged that Alzugaray was negligent in the operation of the tanker truck and that JBI was vicariously liable for Alzugaray’s actions. Green’s workers’ compensation carrier, plaintiff Sussex Insurance Co. (formally known as Companion Property & Casualty), joined Green’s case as an intervening party. Alzugaray and JBI conceded liability for the accident., Green claimed he sustained protruding lumbar disc at the L5-S1 level as a result of the collision. Five days after the accident, Green began treating with a physician and underwent an MRI, which showed a 5 millimeter protrusion at the L5-S1 level. He subsequently underwent conservative therapy, but when it failed to relieve his complaints, he underwent a lumbar fusion one year after the collision. Green then underwent a second operation on Nov. 15, 2015 to remove the hardware. Green’s ex-wife, two former employees, and two witnesses from his last job all testified that Green was an extremely hard worker and a great employee. They also claimed that Green had no complaints of back pain for many years before the subject accident. In addition, Green claimed that he repeatedly tried to return to work, but that he was in too much pain and as a result, is still on permanent disability. The plaintiff’s neurosurgery expert opined that the impact of the subject accident aggravated Green’s “unusually susceptible” spine. The expert also testified that the absence of any complaints for six years made the subject 2013 collision a substantial factor in causing both new and renewed symptoms. Green’s workers’ compensation carrier, the intervening insurance carrier, paid $179,000 in past medical expenses, plus $141,593 in disability. Thus, Green sought recovery of $179,000 in past medical costs, $150,000 in future medical costs, $149,593 in past lost income, and $642,197 in future lost income. He also sought recovery of $2,214,567 in damages for his past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel disputed the causation of any alleged significant . Defense counsel discovered a 2003 workers’ compensation injury with back pain for which Green treated for a year and was disabled from heavy labor. Counsel noted that Green received vocational rehabilitation for that claim, but that Green continued to work in construction. The defense’s experts opined that the impact of the subject accident was minor, that Green’s prior back injury was identical to his current claim, and that, at most, Green suffered a strain that required a few months of therapy. Thus, defense counsel argued that there was no causation from the minor impact and that any alleged were limited to short-term soft tissue . In response, Green described the prior workers’ compensation injury as minor and that he suffered from no residual complaints following that incident.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Santa Monica, CA

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