Case details

Drivers blamed each other’s speed for cause of crash





Result type

Not present

back, bulging disc, degenerative disc condition, exacerbation of, exacerbation of neck, lumbar, neck
On April 8, 2015, plaintiff Michael Schiazzano, a longshoreman, was driving his pickup truck on a marine terminal within the Port of Los Angeles. The speed limit inside the port was 10 mph, but it was customary for vehicles to drive faster. As Schiazzano entered an intersection, a tractor-trailer operated by Steven Bailey, who was traveling north to south, ran through a stop sign and drove in front of Schiazzano’s pickup truck. Schiazzano hit his brakes, but his pickup struck one of the tractor’s rear tires. Schiazzano claimed to his neck, back and a shoulder. Schiazzano sued Bailey; Bailey’s employer, United States Logistics Group; and the owner of the tractor-trailer, AJR Trucking. Schiazzano alleged that Bailey was negligent in his operation of his tractor-trailer and that United States Logistics Group and AJR Trucking were vicariously liable for Bailey’s actions. AJR Trucking settled out prior to trial. Schiazzano claimed that Bailey was primarily liable for the accident because he drove through the stop sign, did not look where he was going, and traveled in excess of the speed limit. The plaintiff’s accident-reconstruction expert opined that Bailey was speeding prior to the crash. Plaintiff’s counsel alleged that Bailey was driving at a speed of 20 mph, which is above the port’s 10-mph speed limit. Bailey admitted that he drove through a stop sign, but he maintained that the accident occurred completely, or in large part, because of Schiazzano’s excessive speed. According to defense counsel, the plaintiff’s accident-reconstruction expert admitted that Schiazzano was traveling between 20 and 25 mph. The defense’s accident-reconstruction expert admitted that Bailey was traveling above the speed limit, but opined that Bailey was going less than 20 mph., Schiazzano claimed he suffered soft tissue to his neck. He also claimed the crash aggravated his pre-existing bulging lumbar discs at the L4-5 and L5-S1 levels, exacerbated the degenerative disc disease in his lower back, and exacerbated a torn rotator cuff in his left, non-dominant shoulder. After the accident, Schiazzano complained of pain in his neck and lower back. As a result, he was placed in an ambulance and transported to Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance, where he was treated and released. He alleged the soft tissue to his neck resolved shortly after the accident, but he claimed the crash exacerbated his prior lumbar condition. He also began complaining of increased pain in his left shoulder one week after the crash and alleged the crash made the pre-existing rotator cuff tear worse. Schiazzano underwent three months of physical therapy and chiropractic treatment following the accident. He also underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder in October 2015. A short time later, he suffered a fall at home and re-injured the same shoulder. As a result, he required a second arthroscopic shoulder surgery in June 2016. Schiazzano claimed that the subject accident and the October 2015 shoulder surgery contributed to his need for the second surgery. In addition, doctors administered epidural injections of a steroid-based painkiller into Schiazzano’s lumbar spine in 2017. The following year, he underwent a lower back rhizotomy, a surgical procedure to sever nerve roots in the spinal cord. Schiazzano never returned to work after the accident. He claimed he had to retire two years after the crash due to his . He also claimed that it is hard for him to walk, do chores around the house, or even get out of bed. At the time of trial, Schiazzano was still receiving pain management treatment. He claimed that his back is getting worse and that he will be in chronic pain for the rest of his life. He alleged that as a result, he will need pain management treatment indefinitely. Schiazzano sought recovery of approximately $1 million in past and future lost earnings. He also sought recovery of past and future medical expenses, and damages for his past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel pointed out that Schiazzano had a long history of problems in his spine and shoulder, and noted that Schiazzano underwent a cervical discectomy back in 2010. Counsel also played the deposition of one of Schiazzano’s orthopedic surgeons, who claimed that he told Schiazzano in September 2014, several months before the subject crash, that he would need arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder to address a torn rotator cuff. According to defense counsel, nine days before the crash, another doctor also told Schiazzano that he would require shoulder surgery. Defense counsel also disputed whether the crash contributed to Schiazzano’s second shoulder surgery in June 2016 and maintained that the crash, at most, caused soft tissue that resolved shortly after the accident. The defense’s expert orthopedic surgeon opined that the accident did not exacerbate Schiazzano’s rotator cuff tear. The expert explained that if Schiazzano had injured his shoulder in the crash, he would have complained of shoulder pain during his initial trip to the emergency room.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Alhambra, CA

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