Case details

Passenger fractured tibia and tore tendons in ankle





Result type

Not present

fracture, knee, tibial plateau ankle
On March 22, 2010, plaintiff June Middleton, 68, a property tax consultant, was a passenger in a vehicle operated by her ex-husband, David Middleton. She claimed that the vehicle was struck by a vehicle driven by Christopher Duncan, who she claimed entered the intersection of Market Street and 11th Avenue in downtown San Diego on a red light. She fractured her leg. Middleton sued Duncan for motor vehicle negligence and sued Mr. Middleton for entering an intersection in violation of a red traffic signal. Mr. Middleton also contended that Duncan ran a red light when he entered the intersection. Duncan denied the plaintiffs’ allegations and contended that Mr. Middleton entered the intersection on a red light and caused the subject automobile collision The court rejected the plaintiff’s contention that jury instructions should be given to allow the jury to find negligence upon both defendants. The court also rejected the plaintiff’s contention that the burden of proof should be shifted under the case of Summers v. Tice, and that the defendants were obligated to prove the other defendant was negligent and should they be unable to meet that burden, both defendants must be held liable., Middleton was treated at the scene and then transported via ambulance to the hospital. She sustained suffered a fracture of her tibial plateau on her right leg requiring surgery on March 23. The plaintiff’s treating doctors later discovered that she had also suffered tears to tendons in her right ankle and damage to her ankle joint caused by the accident. A second surgery was performed June 14 to debride her ankle joint and repair the tears and other damage to her peroneal brevis and longus tendons. A third surgery was performed approximately 14 months after the original injury to remove the plates and screws from her tibial plateau. Middleton continued to suffer pain in her knee and ankle. She also had swelling and an uneven gait. The plaintiff was unable to return to work until Aug. 22. She has pain in her knee from the hardware and pain and swelling in her ankle. The pain from the hardware resolved after the hardware was surgically removed, but the pain and swelling in her ankle continued. She also suffered from loss of motion in all four planes of her ankle. The plaintiff claimed four to six months of extreme pain followed by periods of recovery where the pain was not as severe. Middleton’s treating physician and her expert in orthopedics determined that she would need medical treatment of her right ankle, possibly surgery, and it would cost approximately $25,000. In addition, both experts testified that a bone spur had formed on the metatarsal of her right foot, which was caused by the uneven gait brought about by the loss of range of motion. They testified that a surgery would be needed to remove the bone spur and would cost between $5,000 and $9,000. The plaintiff claimed a past lost earnings of $16,102.62; future lost earnings of $2,307.75; past medical expenses of $63,314.34; future medical expenses of $25,000; past lost of household services of $800; past pain and suffering of $85,000 and future pain and suffering of $35,000. The plaintiff suggested an award of $1.1 million. The defendants admitted most of plaintiff’s but disputed the need for all of the plaintiff’s claimed future medical care. In addition, the defendants disputed some of her past lost income and all of her future lost income. In addition, the defendants disputed the nature and extent of the pain and suffering and general damages claimed by the plaintiff. Defense counsel suggested an award of the past medical bills, a portion of the past lost income and $25,000 for past pain and suffering and nothing for future pain and suffering.
Superior Court of San Diego County, San Diego, CA

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