Case details

Passenger only suffered neck strain, at most, defense argued





Result type

Not present

cervical, herniated disc, neck
On July 22, 2010, at approximately 6:30 p.m., plaintiff Theresa Roe, 46, an IT business owner, was a passenger in a sport utility vehicle traveling on northbound on Euclid Street, in Fullerton. When she was just south of the intersection with West Williamson Avenue, her SUV was rear-ended by a vehicle operated by Adam Shawesh. Roe claimed to her neck. Roe sued Adam Shawesh and the believed owners of the Adam Shawesh’s vehicle, Khalifa Mohamed Shawesh and Jean Shawesh. Roe alleged that Adam Shawesh was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that Khalifa and Jean Shawesh were vicariously liable for Adam Shawesh’s actions. It was ultimately determined that Khalifa and Jean Shawesh lacked ownership of Adam Shawesh’s vehicle. Thus, Khalifa and Jean Shawesh were dismissed from the case prior to trial, and the matter proceeded to trial against Adam Shawesh only. Roe claimed that her SUV was stopped for a red light at the intersection of South Euclid Street and West Williamson Avenue, behind a few other vehicles, when Adam Shawesh rear-ended her vehicle. Thus, she contended that Adam Shawesh was inattentive to the stopped traffic at the subject intersection. Adam Shawesh claimed that he was stopped behind Roe’s SUV for a red light at West Commonwealth Avenue when the SUV moved forward and then stopped unexpectedly. He claimed that he moved forward once Roe’s SUV moved, but that the SUV stopped after he looked at his radio for a second. He claimed that since he did not anticipate the SUV stopping, the rear-end collision occurred., Eight days after the accident, Roe went to a Kaiser urgent care facility with complaints of neck pain, as well as tingling and numbness in her upper left extremity. She claimed she sustained a herniated cervical disc, for which she was prescribed pain medication. Roe then presented to Tri-Star Medical Group, in Santa Ana, 18 days later and started treating with a chiropractor and neurosurgeon through April 2011. Roughly eight months later, she returned to Tri-Star with ongoing complaints and continued treatment, which also consisted of two epidural injections to her cervical spine. However, Roe claimed conservative treatment did not resolve her neck condition and she ultimately underwent a two-level cervical disc fusion with instrumentation on May 13, 2013. She then followed up with 51 more visits of chiropractic care over eight months. Roe claimed the fusion surgery improved her condition, in that she is mostly symptom-free and does not currently seek any further treatment. Thus, she sought recovery of $1.5 million in total damages, including $206,000 to $240,000 for the reasonable value for her medical costs and an unspecified amount of damages for her past pain and suffering. (Roe did not make a claim for lost earnings.) Roe’s husband and daughter originally filed loss-of-consortium claims, but their claims were dismissed for a waiver of costs before the commencement of trial. Defense counsel disputed the nature and extent of Roe’s alleged and damages, specifically regarding causation, and the reasonableness and necessity of the treatment after April 2011. Counsel contended that a November 2010 MRI showed degenerative changes in Roe’s cervical spine with no evidence of an acute injury from the accident. Thus, defense counsel argued that if Roe suffered any injury from the subject collision — which was a fender bender with no visible damage to Roe’s vehicle — it would have only been a neck strain. Defense counsel further argued that Roe’s case on damages lacked credibility, since there were significant gaps in treatment. Counsel contended that Roe did not complain of any injury at the scene (according to her deposition) and that if Roe had suffered a serious herniated disc, she would have felt symptoms immediately. In addition, counsel contended that Roe was reported to have full range of motion in her neck at Kaiser eight days after the accident, which was also inconsistent with an acute disc herniation.
Superior Court of Orange County, Santa Ana, CA

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