Case details

Defense: Low-speed impact could not cause injuries alleged





Result type

Not present

back, bulging disc, lower back, lumbar neck
On June 8, 2012, plaintiff Maria De Romo, a special education aide in her 60s, was driving on Interstate 10, in San Bernardino, with her husband, plaintiff Jaime Romo, as a front seat passenger when their vehicle was rear-ended by a vehicle operated by Eduardo Hernandez. De Romo claimed to her back, and her husband claimed to his neck and back. De Romo and Romo sued Hernandez, alleging that Hernandez was negligent in the operation of his vehicle. Romo, who had some disabilities prior to the subject accident, claimed soft tissue to his neck and back. However, Romo settled with Hernandez’s insurer prior to trial. Thus, the matter proceeded to trial with only De Romo’s claims against Hernandez. Hernandez stipulated to liability., De Romo claimed she sustained a bulging lumbar disc and soft tissue to her neck. After the accident, De Romo complained of pain to her neck and lower back, but she did go an emergency room. Instead, she later treated with a pain management specialist, an orthopedic physician, and chiropractors. De Romo underwent a few months of chiropractic treatment and then received an epidural injection to her lower back. She did not return for any other treatment, and she claimed her neck pain had resolved. De Romo claimed that she continues to have pain in her lower back and pain with activities of daily living. She alleged that as a result, she is no longer able to participate in physical activities with her students and she can no longer help care for her husband, which she did before the subject accident. The plaintiff’s neurosurgery expert opined that De Romo had reasonable and necessary medical billings that were reasonable and customary. The expert, who was part owner of the practice where a chiropractor performed De Romo’s epidural injection, opined that due to her age, De Romo was not a candidate for surgery, but that De Romo would require on-going conservative care and pain management. Thus, De Romo sought recovery of $120,000 in total damages, including $36,043 in past medical costs, an unspecified amount of future medical costs, and an unspecified amount of damages for her past and future pain and suffering. Hernandez testified that the collision was of moderate impact. The defense’s orthopedic surgery expert opined that De Romo’s treatment was not reasonable or necessary. The expert also opined that if De Romo had any , they would have only been soft tissue in nature and that reasonable treatment would have been two to four weeks of physical therapy. Defense counsel noted that the questions plaintiff’s counsel asked the defense’s expert orthopedic surgeon “opened the door” for the expert to testify about the biomechanics of injury. Thus, the expert opined that, from a biomechanical point of view, — which the court allowed him to testify on, — there was no mechanism of injury since the impact from the collision was not significant, so De Romo’s must be pre-existing or degenerative. Defense counsel also called the plaintiff’s chiropractic expert to testify for the defense. The expert was critical of the chiropractic care that De Romo received.
Superior Court of San Bernardino County, San Bernardino, CA

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