Case details

Parties disputed alleged back injuries following broadside crash





Result type

Not present

back, fusion, lumbar
On Nov. 18, 2014, plaintiff Genovevo Ortega, 35, a tile setter, was driving south on 30th Street, in San Diego. His wife, plaintiff Fany Juarez, and his minor son, plaintiff Joseph Ortega, were passengers. As they entered the intersection with Broadway, the driver’s side of their pickup truck was struck by a sedan operated by Janlene Lim, who entered the intersection from westbound Broadway. Genovevo Ortega claimed an injury to his back. Juarez and Joseph also claimed . Mr. Ortega, Juarez and Joseph sued Lim and the owner of the sedan, Jessie Lim. The lawsuit alleged that Janlene Lim was negligent in the operation of her vehicle and that Jessie Lim was vicariously liable for Janlene Lim’s actions. Prior to trial, Jessie Lim was let out of the case, and Juarez and Joseph settled their claims. The matter proceeded to trial solely on Genovevo Ortega’s claims against Janlene Lim. Ortega claimed that Janlene Lim ran a red light, causing the collision. Janlene Lim conceded negligence and causation, admitting that she was distracted by her phone just before the accident. The trial addressed the nature and extent of Ortega’s alleged and damages., Ortega claimed he sustained a lumbar disc injury at the L4-5 level, resulting in lumbar facet syndrome, a painful irritation of the posterior part of the lumbar spine. He did not go to a hospital from the accident scene and, instead, presented to Sharp Coronado Hospital’s emergency room the following day. He was treated for back pain and released. Ortega initially underwent seven months of chiropractic treatment and was diagnosed with the L4-5 disc injury with facet syndrome within a year of the accident. He then received two facet joint injections. Ortega then received no treatment from October 2015 through January 2017. In 2017, Ortega had a lumbar discogram to confirm the alleged injury to his back. He then had several follow-up appointments with his treating neurosurgeon, who ultimately performed a lumbar fusion at the L4-5 level on March 12, 2018. Ortega then underwent several months of post-surgery physical therapy. Ortega claimed that he will eventually need fusion surgery on an adjacent-level disc in the future. He also stated that he is in constant pain and as a result, can no longer be active with his sons. He specifically said that he cannot play soccer, go to the beach, or go fishing. Ortega sought recovery of past and future medical expenses, and damages for his past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel pointed out that Ortega had a 15-month gap in treatment and that Ortega continued doing his construction job during that time. Counsel argued that as a result, Ortega failed to mitigate his damages by finding a less physical job. Counsel also argued that Ortega’s job, and not the car accident, could have caused the alleged back injury. The defense’s expert orthopedic surgeon opined that MRI reports did not show a visible injury at the L4-5 level and that the fusion surgery was not necessary. Plaintiff’s counsel countered that the defense’s expert only saw the MRI report and not the MRI itself. Counsel also argued that the MRI did not tell the full story, as Ortega’s treating neurosurgeon had noted the visible L4-5 injury during the fusion. Plaintiff’s counsel also pointed to the discogram that allegedly showed an L4-5 injury.
Superior Court of San Diego County, San Diego, CA

Recommended Experts


Get a FREE consultation for your case