Case details

Insurance Co. claimed driver only suffered soft-tissue injuries





Result type

Not present

anxiety, brain, brain injury, cervical, cognition, depression, head, headaches, impairment, mental, neck, psychological, strain, traumatic brain injury
On Feb. 1, 2009, claimant Merle Parkins, 33, was driving his Ford Ranger pickup truck at 50 mph on Highway 41 in Lemoore, when he broadsided a Ford Explorer that made a sudden left turn right in front of him. The Explorer, which was operated by an unlicensed and uninsured driver, subsequently rolled over several times. Parkins claimed neck and emotional distress as a result of the crash. Parkins sought recovery via the supplementary- uninsured-motorist provision of his own insurance policy, which was administered by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. Nationwide did not dispute liability for the uninsured-motorist accident, but disagreed with the damages alleged by Parkins., Parkins’ truck sustained severe front-end damage after intruding 2 feet into the passenger-side of the Ford Explorer. Following the accident, Parkins alleged that he suffered post-traumatic stress disorder with chronic pain. He claimed he was diagnosed with chronic cervical strain, and myofascial pain syndrome to the left side of his neck, shoulder and upper back with radicular-type symptoms. Parkins’ physicians testified that Parkins would need surgery, including a discectomy and cervical fusion at the C5-6 level, and a lifetime of pain management, including a functional restoration program. Since the accident, Parkins complained of worsening psychological symptoms of sleeplessness, anxiety, fear of driving, difficulty concentrating, helplessness, memory problems, feelings of detachment and outbursts of anger. He claimed that these symptoms led to a diagnosis of clinical depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, post-concussive syndrome with associated cognitive defects, a headache disorder, and a mild traumatic brain injury. Parkins alleged he worked 60 to 80 hours a week for his company, Parkins Construction, which was doing business as G.J. Gardner Homes, a franchise custom home building company where he managed employees, negotiated sales contracts and performed all phases of construction in home building and remodeling; all while enjoying good physical, emotional and mental health. However, he claimed that as a result of the accident, there had been significant periods of time where he has not been able to work. In fact, Parkins’ experts testified that he was unemployable in any capacity after being fired on June 19, 2012. Thus, Parkins sought recovery of $2,880,534.11 in total special damages, including $63,559.83 in past medical expenses, $809,279.28 in future medical expenses, $151,158 in past economic loss and $1,856,537 in future economic loss. His wife, Monica, presented a loss-of-consortium claim arising from the consequences of the her husband suffered in the accident in relation to their marriage. Nationwide’s counsel asserted that medical records and Mr. Parkins’ examinations, including many diagnostic films, failed to support a claim for anything more than a severe soft-tissue sprain/strain. Counsel contended that the wage loss was disingenuous and frankly bordered on fraudulent, as Mr. Parkins’ business, like most construction businesses, was failing in 2008/2009. Counsel added that Mr. Parkins’ various insurance policies were either cancelled or being cancelled prior to the subject accident and, in addition, there was correspondence involving Mr. Parkins where the business failure is acknowledged.
Superior Court of Fresno County, Fresno, CA

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