Case details

Pedestrian struck by vehicle claimed shoulder and spinal injuries





Result type

Not present

back, cervical, fusion, herniated disc, left shoulder, lower back, lumbar, lumbar neck, neck
On Sept. 17, 2009, at about 8 a.m., plaintiff Juan Mena, an unemployed 31 year old, was crossing the street at the intersection of Baseline Road and Archibald Avenue, in Racho Cucamonga, when he was struck by a Ford Focus driven by Aselyn Kirkpatrick, who was making a right turn at the intersection. Mena flew up and hit the windshield, breaking it. He claimed he hurt his neck, back and left shoulder. Mena sued Kirkpatrick, alleging the defendant was negligent in the operation of her vehicle. Specifically, Mena claimed he had a green light and was crossing in a marked crosswalk when the accident occurred. Kirkpatrick claimed she was stopped for a red light at the intersection and that when the light turned green, she started to turn right and hit Mena in the crosswalk. A responding police officer with the San Bernardino County Police Department testified that Kirkpatrick told him at the scene of the accident what happened and did not deny fault. Thus, Kirkpatrick admitted liability at trial., Mena claimed he suffered a torn rotator cuff to his left shoulder, two herniated cervical discs and two herniated lumbar discs. He was subsequently transported by paramedics to an emergency room and later received four epidural injections to treat the to his neck and back. On May 15, 2013, Mena underwent an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion at two levels with the implantation of hardware, consisting of a titanium plate, rods and four screws. He then underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder on Feb. 28, 2014. The plaintiff’s orthopedic surgery experts both testified that the accident caused Mena’s and need for both surgeries. One of the surgeons, Dr. Charles Sonu, testified that Mena will need back surgery, consisting of a lumbar fusion at the L5-S1 level within five years and that the cost of this procedure would amount to $200,000. Thus, Mena sought recovery of $2,758,000 in total damages, including $266,666 in past medical costs (based on $300,000 in medical bills), approximately $200,000 in future medical costs, and an unspecified amount for his past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel argued that Mena’s alleged and need for surgery were not caused by the subject accident. Counsel contended that Mena told responding police, paramedics and an emergency room doctor that his right shoulder was the one injured in the accident. Counsel also contended that Mena did not undergo surgery on his shoulder or cervical spine until about four years after the accident. The defense’s orthopedic surgery experts opined that Mena’s were not a result of the accident and that neither of the surgeries was related to any injury Mena would have sustained. One of the defense’s experts, Dr. Timothy Gray, also opined that Mena’s neck surgery was reasonable, but that it was not caused by the subject accident.
Superior Court of San Bernardino County, San Bernardino, CA

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