Case details

Defense: Plaintiff’s surgery not caused by the accident





Result type

Not present

aggravation of pre-existing condition mental, knee, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychological, PTSD
On Oct. 22, 2011, plaintiff Catrina Sheldon, a dental assistant in her 20s, was a passenger in a vehicle operated by her best friend, April Keyes. As they were traveling on a dirt mountain road in Kern County, Keyes attempted a lane change and went over the side of the road. Their vehicle subsequently rolled over onto its driver’s side and was eventually to be stopped by a tree. Since the vehicle lay flat on its side, Sheldon and Keyes had to climb out of the vehicle through the window. Police were called to the scene, and Sheldon claimed she injured her right knee when it struck the interior of the vehicle. Sheldon sued April Keyes and the owner of the vehicle, Bailey Keyes, April Keyes’ mother. Sheldon alleged that April Keyes was negligent in the operation of her vehicle and that Bailey Keyes was vicariously liable for her daughter’s actions. Specifically, she claimed that April Keyes caused the accident by speeding on a dirt mountain road., Sheldon had previously injured her right knee in a fall and had been seen at Kaiser facilities for several years before the subject accident. During her last visit, a few months before the motor vehicle accident, an MRI demonstrated a loose fragment in her knee. After the subject accident, Bailey Keyes drove Sheldon and April Keyes home. Later that day, Sheldon drove herself to a Kaiser hospital. Sheldon claimed that the accident aggravated her pre-existing knee condition. She claimed that as a result, required arthroscopy. Sheldon first underwent eight months of treatment at Kaiser and eventually, in August of 2012, underwent an arthroscopy on lien by her treating physician. Prior to the accident, Sheldon was laid off from her position as a dental hygienist, but a week later, she was re-hired. However, she claimed she could not work at her position for a few weeks post-surgery due to her recuperation. Sheldon claimed that after the arthroscopy, she suffered mild discomfort in her knee after long hikes and that she could no longer run. She also claimed she suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the accident, causing her to have nightmares and not be able to be a passenger in a vehicle. As a result, she treated with a psychologist for six to eight weeks. However, since Sheldon made an excellent recovery after the arthroscopy, she made no claim for any future medical costs or future loss of earnings. She also claimed the only loss of earnings she suffered was during the few weeks after the surgery and that the loss amounted to $1,400. Defense counsel argued that Sheldon had been suffering from prior knee problems for several years and that any need for surgery was not due to the accident. Counsel also argued that Sheldon could have received any necessary treatment at Kaiser, rather than seeking out a private physician. Thus, counsel contended that Sheldon failed to mitigate her damages.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA

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