Case details

Intersection crash caused bulging discs, plaintiff claimed





Result type

Not present

back, bulging disc, cervical, lumbar, neck
On Jan. 3, 2009, plaintiff Barbara Ruano, a self-employed 47-year-old, was driving west on 6th Street in Los Angeles. At approximately 3 p.m., while driving through an intersection, she collided with a taxicab operated by David Palafox, who was traveling south on the crossroad of Virgil Avenue. Ruano claimed to her neck and back. Ruano sued Palafox; the owner of the taxicab, German Deleon; and their employer, the Association of Independent Taxi Owners. He alleged that Palafox was negligent in the operation of his vehicle, and that Deleon and the taxi company were vicariously liable for his actions. Ruano claimed that Palafox ran a red light at the intersection in question, causing the accident. Plaintiff’s counsel presented an independent eyewitness that was driving behind Ruano during the accident and corroborated with her account of the accident. The defendants argued that Ruano caused the accident and that they were not negligent. Palafox claimed that it was the plaintiff who ran the red light, causing the intersection collision., Ruano went to the emergency room on the evening of the accident with complaints of strains and sprains to her neck and lower back. When her pain worsened, she underwent MRIs, which revealed bulging cervical and lumbar discs at C5-6 and L3-4. She subsequently treated conservatively for the first two years with chiropractic care and acupuncture. Ruano claimed she continues to deal with symptoms of pain and discomfort in her neck and lower back, and will require discectomy procedures at the C5-6 and L3-4 levels, as well as epidural injections and further acupuncture and chiropractic care. She claimed she missed an initial four months of work before deciding to close down her business due to her inability to work full-time. She has since worked part-time and claimed she wasn’t sure if she could ever return to a full-time schedule. Ruano also claimed that she can no longer perform as an industrial artist, which was her greatest passion, isn’t active at church anymore, and is limited in interacting and caring for her two children. Thus, the plaintiff asked the jury to award damages that included $62,730 for past medical costs, $996,000 for future medical costs, $200,000 for past lost earnings, $800,000 for future lost earnings, $188,190 for past pain and suffering, and $996,000 for future pain and suffering. Defense counsel contended that Ruano’s total damages were no more than $10,000 for past medical costs, and that anything else was unreasonable. Counsel argued that the plaintiff did not suffer a serious injury or any bulges, and only sustained minor soft-tissue that should have resolved quickly with a short recovery time.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA

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