Case details

Defense claimed surgery was to treat plaintiff’s prior condition





Result type

Not present

back, fusion, herniated disc, lumbar, neck
On Oct. 10, 2015, plaintiff Teruko Givens, 68, a retiree, was driving on Heritage Road, in Chula Vista. When her vehicle entered the intersection with East Palomar Street, it was broadsided by a vehicle operated by Danilo Sapida, who was traveling on East Palomar Street. Givens claimed to her lower back. Givens sued Sapida, alleging that Sapida was negligent in the operation of his vehicle. Givens claimed that Sapida ran a red light on East Palomar Street, causing the collision. Defense counsel contended that, nine days after the accident, the city found that the yellow and green traffic lights at the subject intersection were burned out. Counsel argued that since the lights at the intersection were defective, Sapida could have had the right of way, as Sapida claimed., Givens was placed in an ambulance and brought to a Kaiser hospital with complaints of lower back pain. She claimed that she sustained herniated lumbar discs. Givens underwent lumbar fusion on the same discs 1.5 years after the accident. Givens’ treating orthopedic surgery expert testified that he performed surgery on Givens to treat an exacerbation of a chronic, pre-existing spondylolisthesis condition. The expert opined that the accident aggravated Givens’ pre-existing condition and that Givens will need another lumbar fusion in about three years at a cost of around $125,000 to $150,000. Givens sought recovery of past and future medical costs and damages for his past and future pain and suffering. Plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award Givens $1.6 million in total damages. The defense’s medical experts agreed that Givens’ surgery was needed but opined that the surgery was not needed to treat any alleged trauma from the accident. Instead, the experts opined that the fusion was to treat Givens’ chronic, pre-existing spondylolisthesis, which was not caused or exacerbated by the collision.
Superior Court of San Diego County, San Diego, CA

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