Case details

Defense: Daily activities, not accident, caused aggravation





Result type

Not present

aggravation of pre-existing condition, neck
On May 6, 2010, at 2:30 p.m., plaintiff John Pieplow, 55, a real estate developer, was stopped on westbound Sunset Boulevard, at the intersection with Beverly Glen Boulevard, near UCLA, in Los Angeles, when his rental vehicle was rear-ended by a vehicle operated by Johannah Warren. Pieplow claimed the forceful impact thrust his vehicle forward 5 to 6 feet and caused to his neck. Pieplow sued Warren, alleging the defendant was negligent in the operation of her vehicle. Warren admitted liability, but claimed that she had braked forcefully and was nearly stopped when she struck the rear of Pieplow’s stopped vehicle. The parties denied being injured at the scene, and there were no photographs or repair estimates for either vehicle. So when Warren traded her undamaged car in a month later, she did not take any photographs. Pieplow testified that his rented car was damaged, but that he also took no photographs of his vehicle. He also testified that he was not charged for any repairs because after he returned the rental vehicle the following morning, leaving the key under the mat, the car rental agency, Affordable Rent A Car, liquidated its entire fleet of vehicles that same day., Five weeks after the accident, Pieplow went to his medical insurance physician, who reported that Pieplow presented with neck and right shoulder pain caused by sleeping wrong two days earlier. The physician then referred Pieplow to a lien-based orthopedic surgeon, whose records initially showed no neck pain. Pieplow was ultimately given a cortisone injection in his shoulder. Pieplow then treated with his orthopedic surgeon many more times over the next two years. The treating surgeon ultimately concluded that Pieplow’s pre-existing cervical degeneration had been lit up by the rear-end accident, for which he authorized 74 physical therapy visits. When Pieplow claimed he had no relief from therapy, the physician recommended a course of three cervical epidural injections, which were never performed. Pieplow ultimately returned to his daily activities, but he claimed he was limited in performing strenuous activities such as tennis and boot camp. Thus, he sought recovery of $26,779 in past medical costs and $15,000 in future medical costs. He also sought recovery of damages for his pain and suffering. The defense’s expert orthopedic surgeon testified that there was no medical evidence to connect Pieplow’s cervical arthritic pain with the subject automobile accident. The expert noted that there was no emergency care and that Pieplow’s first medical visit was five weeks after the accident, when Pieplow merely mentioned pain caused by sleeping wrong. The expert further noted that because no edema was seen on Pieplow’s MRI scans, suggesting that there was no trauma. In addition, the defense’s expert orthopedic surgeon opined that Pieplow’s active lifestyle, including engaging in Boot Camp exercise classes and daily tennis, were more likely to have aggravated Pieplow’s arthritis than the subject automobile accident.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA

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