Case details

Defense: Minor impact did not cause or aggravate neck injury





Result type

Not present

herniated disc, neck
On Nov. 5, 2010, plaintiff Ruth Bartak, 72, was driving her vehicle on northbound Interstate 215, in Riverside County. When she was just south of the East Ridge Avenue off-ramp, her vehicle was rear-ended by a vehicle operated by Shawn Handelman. Bartak claimed to her neck. Bartak sued Handelman (who was initially erroneously sued as Shawn “Handleman”), alleging motor vehicle negligence. Handelman admitted liability for the accident., Bartak claimed she suffered a disc herniation at the C3-4 level. She was subsequently transported by ambulance to an emergency room and she then saw her treating primary care physician, an internist, who recommended epidural injections. Bartak also underwent some chiropractic treatments. About 15 years before the subject accident, Bartak was involved in an accident where she suffered a neck injury that ultimately resulted in the need for a cervical fusion at the C4-5 level. Bartak contended that this prior fusion made her an eggshell plaintiff and that the subject November 2010 accident aggravated her pre-existing injury, causing the adjacent C3-4 level to be impacted. Thus, Bartak claimed that in order to address the new cervical disc herniation, she required a new cervical fusion at the C3-4 level on March 21, 2014. Her medical bills were approximately $210,000. Defense counsel argued that the subject accident involved a minor impact and that the alleged C3-4 disc herniation was due to a degenerative condition. Thus, counsel argued that the March 2014 surgery was not related to the subject accident. The defense’s biomechanical expert opined that the subject accident could not have caused a disc injury due to the minor impact.
Superior Court of Riverside County, Riverside, CA

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