Case details

Defense: Minor crash could not have caused alleged injuries





Result type

Not present

left wrist, lower back, neck, right knee
On July 2, 2013, plaintiff Herman Johnson, 69, a retired steelworker, was driving on Hillcrest Street, in Inglewood, when the left, front corner of his pick-up truck was struck by a vehicle operated by Yannett Morales. Johnson claimed to his neck, lower back, left wrist, and right knee. Johnson sued Morales, alleging that Morales was negligent in the operation of her vehicle. Morales admitted liability, claiming she made an unsafe lane change that caused the relatively minor property damage., Johnson did not complain of any at the scene, and flew to Atlanta for a family reunion the following day. He returned to Los Angeles approximately one week later and then, three weeks after the collision, started receiving chiropractic treatment for alleged pain in his neck, lower back, left wrist, and right knee. Ultimately, Johnson underwent a right knee arthroscopy to address a torn meniscus in his right knee approximately 14 months after the crash. The procedure was performed by his treating orthopedic surgeon. Johnson was a retired steelworker and was previously on disability due to a prior neck injury and surgery. Thus, he claimed his neck and lower back pain was due to an exacerbation of his pre-existing injury. However, he claimed his knee injury was caused by the crash. Johnson further claimed that despite surgery, he still has ongoing knee pain, which limits his mobility and requires him to use a cane. Thus, Johnson sought recovery of approximately $87,500 in total medical costs, as all of his treatment was on a lien. He also sought recovery of damages for his past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel contended that the collision was so minor that it could not have caused any significant . Counsel also noted that Johnson had a prior cervical fusion, as well as multiple prior surgeries to his right knee. The defense’s medical experts opined that Johnson had severe, pre-existing, degenerative arthritis in his right knee and that the arthroscopic knee surgery was not related to the subject incident. However, the defense’s orthopedic surgery expert conceded that Johnson likely did sustain a temporary exacerbation of his pre-existing neck and lower back pain as a result of the crash. Thus, defense counsel argued that the charges for Johnson’s medical treatment were outrageous and litigation driven, particularly in regard to the right knee arthroscopy charges, which totaled over $60,000.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Van Nuys, CA

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