Case details

Driver claimed plaintiff’s injuries caused by prior incident





Result type

Not present

back, fusion, herniated disc, lumbar
On May 7, 2012, plaintiff Brian Record, 47, a roofer, was in the garage of his rented home when a garage door mechanism failed, causing the door to fall directly onto his back. Ten days later, on May 17, 2012, Record was a passenger in a vehicle when it was involved in a multi-vehicle, rear-end collision. The crash occurred when an intoxicated driver, Patrick Reese, while within the scope of his employment with Blom Inc., struck the vehicle in front of him, resulting in the collision of multiple vehicles, including the lead vehicle, which contained Record. Record claimed he sustained to his back as a result of the incidents. Record sued the owners of his rented house, Dario Trujillo and Lisa Ann Trujillo; Reese; and Blom Inc. Record alleged that the Trujillos were negligent in the repair and/or maintenance of the garage door, creating a dangerous condition. He also alleged that Reese was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that Blom Inc. was vicariously liable for Reese’s actions while in the course and scope of his employment. Blom Inc. was ultimately dismissed from the case on the first day of trial. The Trujillos denied liability, claiming that Record agreed to repair the garage door on his own and, thus, Record was responsible for his own . Reese admitted liability and admitted that his negligence caused harm to Record. Record and Reese entered into a sliding scale (“Mary Carter”) agreement, in which Reese’s counsel agreed to remain in the case to defend his client, while Record agreed not to execute on any judgment in excess of Reese/Blom Inc.’s insurance limits. In addition, to the extent that Record received a judgement above certain levels against the non-settling Trujillos, a portion of the settlement would be refunded. Thus, at the beginning of trial, Judge Russell Hom had to determine whether to have the jury hear about the sliding scale agreement. Based upon the law and factual issues in the case, Hom determined that the agreement would not be disclosed to the jury., Record claimed he sustained a herniated lumbar disc at the L5-S1 level. After the garage door accident, Record presented to an emergency room with complaints of terrible lower back pain with numbness and weakness in his left leg. After the accident with Reese, Record did not seek any treatment until 10 days later. Record ultimately underwent two surgeries, including a discectomy and a one level fusion two months prior to trial. He claimed he was doing significantly better after the lumbar fusion. At the time of the accidents, Record was not working, but he was in the process of getting re-trained because of a prior industrial injury. He eventually returned to work as a roofer, but he had to quit because of alleged ongoing pain, which lead to the second surgery. Thus, at the time of trial, Record claimed that he was not able to return to work. Thus, Record sought recovery of past and future medical costs, past and future loss of earnings, and non-economic damages for his past and future pain and suffering. His wife, Lesley Record, sought recovery for her loss of consortium. The Trujillo’s general orthopedic surgery expert saw Mr. Record during an independent medical exam. He opined that Mr. Record’s symptoms and treatment were exclusively the result of pre-existing, degenerative disc disease. Reese’s counsel contended that, during medical visits and in discovery, Mr. Record consistently pointed to Reese’s vehicle incident as causing his lower back problems, but that the medical records from the night of the garage door accident correlated with the injury. Reese’s counsel also noted that Mr. Record presented to three fellowship trained spinal surgeons — Mr. Record’s treating medical experts — who had evaluated and/or operated on Mr. Record and that all three experts, citing the emergency room record, complaints and mechanism of injury, related Mr. Record’s injury and need for treatment to the earlier garage door incident. Reese’s orthopedic surgery expert saw Mr. Record during an independent medical exam and opined that Mr. Record became symptomatic as the result of the garage door incident. The expert also opined that there was no evidence of trauma from the motor vehicle incident with Reese.
Superior Court of Sacramento County, Sacramento, CA

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