Case details

Motorcyclist: Traumatic arthritis from crash-related knee fracture




Mediated Settlement

Result type

Not present

fracture, knee, patella
On Dec. 26, 2017, plaintiff Michael Caudill, a full-time garden-shop employee and part-time screen installer in his 30s, was motorcycling on the southbound side of Tamalpais Avenue, in San Rafael. When he entered the intersection with Third Street, he struck a vehicle operated by Sabrina Denebeim, who was making a left turn from the northbound side of Tamalpais Avenue onto Third Street. Caudill was ejected from his motorcycle, bounced off the windshield of Denebeim’s vehicle and landed on the roadway. Caudill sustained to his left knee. Caudill sued Denebeim and the owner of Denebeim’s vehicle, Joel Kaminsky, Denebeim’s husband. Caudill alleged that Denebeim was negligent in the operation of her vehicle and that Kaminsky was vicariously liable for Denebeim’s actions. Caudill claimed that he was cut off by Denebeim’s turning vehicle and that Denebeim caused the collision. Defense counsel claimed that, prior to the crash, Caudill was leaving a bar and riding his girlfriend’s motorcycle. Denebeim claimed that the parties were traveling in opposite directions on Tamalpais Avenue when she turned left, following a car ahead of her that had just turned. She claimed that the turning car blocked her view of Caudill. Defense counsel ultimately conceded liability. The matter proceeded to damages., Caudill sustained a fracture of the left patella. He claimed that his knee shattered, fracturing into five pieces. Caudill was taken to a hospital, where he stayed overnight before being released. He underwent open reduction and internal fixation of the patella on Jan. 10, 2018. Caudill later underwent manipulation under anesthesia to increase the range of motion in the knee on April 10, 2018, and he subsequently underwent surgery to remove the hardware. Caudill claimed that he is left with limited range of motion in his left knee and that the knee developed traumatic arthritis. He claimed that, as a result, he will require additional surgeries. Caudill’s treating surgeon opined that Caudill developed traumatic arthritis and that Caudill would need three future surgeries, including a future knee replacement in 10 years and a second total knee replacement after the age of 80 or so. Caudill also claimed that he missed time from work as he recovered and that he would miss additional time after each future surgery. Caudill initially sought recovery of more than $110,000 in past medical costs, but the amount was partially reduced by MediCal. Caudill also sought recovery of past and future loss of earnings, and damages for past and future pain and suffering. The defense’s expert orthopedic surgeon, who performed an independent medical examination of Caudill, disclosed that he got to his office early on the day of the examination and happened to notice Caudill walking to the coffee shop downstairs in the building. He also disclosed that as he proceeded through the building to his office, he observed Caudill walking without an altered gait and go up a few stairs. The expert explained that since Caudill was there for an examination related to his knee, he logically registered Caudill’s gait. The orthopedic surgeon further explained that, later, during the examination, Caudill allegedly demonstrated an unusual gait, not identified with any particular gait abnormality associated with the injured knee, so he noted his prior observation of Caudill. The defense’s expert orthopedic surgeon, who performed an independent medical examination of Caudill, claimed that he privately observed Caudill walking normally and ascending stairways prior to the examination, but that, during the examination, Caudill demonstrated an unusual gait, not identified with any particular gait abnormality associated with the injured knee. The defense’s expert also opined that Caudill had not yet developed any sign of arthritis, per the X-rays available at the time of the examination in July 2019, but, after viewing a subsequent X-ray, the expert acknowledged that Caudill was developing arthritis and that Caudill could undergo two further surgeries but that a third surgery is highly unlikely.
Superior Court of Marin County, Marin, CA

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