Case details

Defense disputed plaintiff’s alleged elbow injury





Result type

Not present

elbow, fracture
In the late morning of Oct. 28, 2009, plaintiff Claudia Dubon, 34, a cashier, was a passenger in a Chevy Tahoe sport utility vehicle that was traveling on southbound 110 Freeway through the city of Carson. She claimed that the lane she was in had several potholes and that she was behind a stake bed truck operated by Otto Vandenbusch, who was transporting recycled aluminum scraps in the back of the truck. Dubon claimed that a piece of metal subsequently fell from Vandenbusch’s truck and scared her, causing her to shield her face with her right arm as the driver of her vehicle swerved and braked. However, she claimed that her driver’s braking and swerving caused her right, dominant arm to strike the A-pillar of the SUV and fracture her elbow. Dubon sued Vandenbusch for motor vehicle negligence. She claimed that Vandenbusch’s truck went over an irregularity in the roadway, which caused his cargo to shift and a few items to fall out., Dubon claimed she sustained a fracture of the radial head of her right, dominant elbow. She subsequently went to the emergency room at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Torrance, where an X-ray was performed and read to show a radial head fracture. A few days later, more X-rays were taken at the Harbor-UCLA Hospital E.R. in Los Angeles, but were read as revealing no fracture. As a result, she then went to a Total Care clinic, where she was seen by multiple specialists and had two sets of MRIs performed. She also went to an orthopedist, who recommended an elbow replacement surgery. Dubon testified that her right arm was rendered virtually useless by her elbow injury. She alleged that she was unable to carry her baby in a carrier or hold anything heavier than a loaf of bread, and that she could not extend her arm to reach or pull. She alleged that as a result, she missed one year of work as a cashier at a check cashing company. Thus, Dubon sought recovery of damages, including $26,017 in past medical expenses, $17,200 for past loss of earnings, and an unspecified amount for her pain and suffering. At trial, defense counsel impeached Dubon by presenting a sub rosa surveillance video, which showed Dubon engaging in all the activities she claimed she couldn’t do, including lifting a bicycle with no perceivable discomfort. Defense counsel argued that at 5-foot, 3-inches tall, Dubon was too short for her elbow to reach the A-pillar of the large vehicle SUV that she was in. The defense’s expert orthopedist testified that the plaintiff’s films revealed no fracture, and opined that Dubon was uninjured and required no treatment. However, the expert also testified that it did appear that Dubon suffered from unrelated calcific tendonitis, which could create elbow symptoms.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Compton, CA

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