Case details

Knee injury not caused by second impact, defense argued





Result type

Not present

knee, patella, right knee
On March 3, 2009, at approximately 6:30 p.m., plaintiff Ronald McCracken, 54, a piano store employee, was stopped in his vehicle at a red light on Ygnacio Valley Road in Walnut Creek, at the intersection with Wiget Lane, when he was involved in a three-vehicle chain-reaction collision. McCracken was initially rear-ended by a vehicle operated by Diane Wright, who was then rear-ended by a vehicle operated by Erika Dos Santos Padaro, which caused Wright to rear-end McCracken a second time. McCracken claimed to his right knee as a result of the impacts. McCracken sued Wright, Padaro, and the owner of Padaro’s vehicle, Richard Ergo. McCracken alleged that Wright and Padaro were negligent in the operation of their respective vehicles and that Ergo was vicariously liable for Padaro’s actions. Wright was ultimately dismissed from the case pursuant to a policy-limits settlement of $25,000, and Padaro was never served due to Padaro returning home to Brazil. Thus, McCracken proceeded to trial against defendant Ergo only. Ergo admitted liability for the accident, and the matter proceeded to an expedited jury trial on the lone question of whether the impact involving the Padaro/Ergo vehicle caused or contributed to McCracken’s knee injury., Roughly three weeks after the accident, McCracken went to an orthopedic surgeon with complaints of right knee pain. He was diagnosed with a chondral defect of his right patella and ultimately underwent two arthroscopic surgeries with post-surgical physical therapy. McCracken claimed that despite treatment, he still suffers ongoing pain, discomfort and reduced range of motion in his right knee. The parties stipulated that McCracken’s damages would not exceed $15,000 in damages. Ergo’s counsel called the responding police sergeant, who testified that McCracken only complained of minor neck pain at the scene of the accident and denied any other injury, including any right knee complaints. Ergo’s counsel also submitted the testimony of McCracken’s orthopedic surgeon, showing that McCracken only reported one impact to his treating orthopedic surgeon. In addition, counsel submitted McCracken’s sworn declaration, pertaining to the settlement for Wright’s insurance policy limits, in which McCracken claimed he hit his knee on the first impact and which there was no mention of a subsequent impact to the knee. Thus, Ergo’s counsel argued that while McCracken did suffer a knee injury, it was not caused by the second impact involving the Padaro/Ergo vehicle.
Superior Court of Contra Costa County, Martinez, CA

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