Case details

Minimal force involved in crash made injuries unlikely: defense





Result type

Not present

head, headaches neck shoulder, neurological, neurological impairment
On Dec. 1, 2014, plaintiff Thomas Waldie, 68, a retiree, was driving a pickup truck on southbound Clark Avenue, in Long Beach, with his wife, plaintiff Sharon Waldie, 77, a retiree, as a front seat passenger. After stopping for a light at the intersection with Candlewood Street, the traffic signal on Clark Avenue turned green. Since an emergency vehicle was approaching on the eastbound cross-street of Candlewood Street, Mr. Waldie remained stopped at the green light. However, Analicia Pedroza, who was traveling behind the Waldie vehicle, did not appreciate the presence of emergency vehicles and expected the Waldie vehicle to cross the intersection. As a result, Pedroza failed to stop and rear-ended the Waldie pickup truck. Mr. Waldie subsequently claimed to his left shoulder, and Ms. Waldie claimed to her head and neck. The Waldies sued Analicia Pedroza; the registered owners of Analicia Pedroza’s vehicle, her parents, Darlene Pedroza (who was initially erroneously sued as “Arlene” Pedroza”) and Guillermo Pedroza (who was initially erroneously sued as “Guilermo” Pedroza”). The Waldies alleged that Analicia Pedroza was negligent in the operation of her vehicle and that Analicia Pedroza’s parents were vicariously liable for their daughter’s actions. Defense counsel argued that Mr. Waldie could have pulled over his vehicle, pulled through the intersection, or moved the pickup truck out of way some other way, rather than remain stopped at a green light. In response, plaintiffs’ counsel argued that Mr. Waldie could not pull over, as vehicles on the right blocked that option., Police and paramedics responded to the scene, and a report was prepared. The Waldies and Pedroza were able to drive away from the accident scene, but Mr. Waldie presented to a Kaiser location the day after the subject collision and Ms. Waldie sought medical care at an urgent care center a day or two after the crash. Mr. Waldie claimed he sustained an impingement of the left, dominant shoulder as a result of the accident. He subsequently underwent arthroscopic surgery in the summer of 2017, on the eve of the first date set for trial. Mr. Waldie testified that he never had any left shoulder problems or complained of any shoulder problems to any physician prior to the subject accident. He also testified that he had a good outcome as a result of the surgery he underwent. Ms. Waldie claimed that she suffered from ongoing neck pain and headaches, as well as neurological damage as a result of the crash. She did not undergo physical therapy, as she believed it would not improve her condition. However, she did have a neurology evaluation appointment, but there was no clear treatment and she had no other identified limitations, as she was living her life much as before the subject accident. The plaintiffs’ biomechanics expert testified about how the Waldies’ pickup truck’s rear bumper was bent in the accident, resulting in under $1,200 in property damage, but acknowledged that no repairs were made to the vehicle. However, the expert opined that the force of the impact could have caused the alleged , as well as a shoulder tear, as the forces were consistent with the types of alleged. The plaintiffs’ treating orthopedics expert saw the Waldies two to three times, and he wrote medical legal reports. The expert testified about the and alleged reasonableness of treatment. Thus, both the orthopedics expert and the biomechanics expert opined that Mr. Waldie’s shoulder issues were more likely than not caused by the subject accident. By stipulation, Mr. Waldie’s post-Howell medical costs were agreed to be $19,000, while Ms. Waldie’s medical costs were under $1,700, as she had modest charges for the urgent care visit and neurology evaluation. In addition, they both had lien-based care with their treating orthopedics expert, which added several thousand dollars to the totals. Thus, Mr. Waldie sought recovery of $150,000 in damages and Ms. Waldie sought recovery of $35,000 in damages. Defense counsel maintained that the subject accident involved a minor rear-end impact and that it was not likely to cause of any kind. Counsel also contended that Mr. Waldie had pre-existing shoulder issues and that Mr. Waldie’s alleged condition was not caused by the subject accident. The defense’s accident reconstruction expert testified that the subject accident involved minimal force, similar to a bumper car, and that would be unlikely. The defense’s expert neurologist, an independent medical examiner, opined that if resulted from the subject accident, they would be minor in nature and would have been resolved within weeks. The defense’s expert orthopedist testified about his exam of Mr. Waldie and about how Mr. Waldie’s historical medical records showed prior, similar shoulder problems even though Mr. Waldie denied any history of shoulder problems. In addition, defense counsel called Mr. Waldie’s treating family medicine physician as a rebuttal witness, as the doctor wrote the chart note that indicated prior left shoulder complaints. The physician, who was only called to support his own records, authenticated his own chart notes that indicated that he treated Mr. Waldie for similar shoulder issues less than six months before the subject accident.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Long Beach, CA

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