Case details

Defense: Minor collision could not have caused aggravation





Result type

Not present

back, bulging disc, lumbar, neurological, radiculopathy
On Aug. 14, 2014, plaintiff Zsaquiana Venegoni, 33, a territorial manager and account representative for Kraus USA Flooring, was driving a 2012 Nissan Rogue on State Route 78, also known as the Ronald Packard Parkway, when she got off the Sycamore Avenue exit, in Vista. While she was stopped at a red light on the off-ramp for approximately 45 seconds, preparing to make a right turn onto Sycamore Avenue, her vehicle was rear-ended by a 2013 Nissan Altima operated by Michael Dahlquist. Venegoni claimed an injury to her back. Venegoni sued Dahlquist, alleging that Dahlquist was negligent in the operation of his vehicle. Marie Frankel was also named as a defendant, but she was ultimately dismissed from the case. Defense counsel admitted that Dahlquist was liable for the accident., Venegoni claimed she suffered an aggravation of a prior lumbar condition, causing significant radiculopathy into her lower extremities. She alleged that at the time of the crash, she was wearing her seat belt and her 3-month-old baby was in the back seat. However, she claimed she was leaning forward in her seat, looking to the left to make a right turn, when her vehicle was struck, causing her body to be jolted back and then forward. Venegoni claimed that as a result, she appeared at her chiropractor’s office the day after the accident. Prior to the collision, Venegoni underwent chiropractic treatment for pain to her neck, mid-back, and lower back, but she claimed never had any symptoms of radiculopathy into her left leg before the crash. An MRI was done shortly after the accident, and it revealed a 5-millimeter lumbar disc bulge at the L5-S1 level. Venegoni subsequently continued to undergo chiropractic care and she was recommended for injections, but she did not want to proceed with them. Venegoni testified that despite treatment, the pain continued to get progressively worse after the accident until approximately six weeks later, when she had difficulty getting out of bed or walking. She also claimed that she had difficulty performing any of her usual activities around the house and that she had to take three weeks off of work. She alleged that as a result, she had to have her mother stay with her for two weeks to help take care of her infant, who was then 5 months old. Venegoni’s mother also testified about the time she had to stay with her daughter. Venegoni claimed that her radiculopathy symptoms continue to this day. However, she acknowledged that her symptoms have improved from the peak of where she had difficulty walking six weeks following the collision. The plaintiff’s neurosurgery expert testified that the lumbar disc bulge was pre-existing, but that the collision caused a previously asymptomatic disc bulge to produce pressure on the exiting nerve root, resulting in the severe complaints of radiculopathy. Thus, Venegoni sought recovery of $37,000, including $10,560 in past medical costs, $11,445.45 in lost wages, and the remaining amount for her past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel disputed the nature and extent of Venegoni’s alleged , arguing that the accident was not a cause of any of alleged harm. The defense’s accident reconstruction expert noted that Venegoni’s 2012 Nissan Rogue sustained property damages estimated in the amount of $1,744.55, while Dahlquist’s 2013 Nissan Altima sustained damages estimated in the amount of $1,674.11. (Property damage was not in dispute at the time of trial.) The expert also opined that the collision was of insufficient force to cause Venegoni’s alleged . Thus, defense counsel argued that all of Venegoni’s alleged were pre-existing and not caused by the minor collision.
Superior Court of San Diego County, Vista, CA

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