Case details

Photos showed plaintiff acting uninjured after crash: defense





Result type

Not present

head, migraines, neck, pain, right arm
On Aug. 15, 2012, plaintiff Kristen Spence, 25, a receptionist, was operating her vehicle on Brewster Avenue, in Redwood City, with her mother, plaintiff Marcia Spence, as a front seat passenger. At the same time, a vehicle operated by Maria Valdez pulled out of her driveway and attempted to merge onto Brewster Avenue. As a result, Valdez’s vehicle collided with the back left quarter panel of the Spence vehicle. Kristen Spence claimed to her head and neck. Kristen and Marcia Spence sued Valdez, alleging that Valdez was negligent in the operation of her vehicle. Marcia Spence ultimately dropped out of the suit, and the matter continued with Kristen Spence’s claims only. Valdez conceded liability for the accident., Kristen Spence claimed that after the accident, she felt pain to her head and neck, as well as tingling in her right arm. She subsequently underwent physical therapy and chiropractic treatment from the date of the accident until trial. Kristen Spence claimed that she suffered a loss of earnings since she quit working at various jobs due to the pain she was suffering. She also claimed that despite treatment, she still suffers pain in her neck and migraines. She alleged that as a result, she is still actively treating with a doctor and indicated that she would continue to do so. Although no medical expert opinions were presented, Kristen Spence was allowed to introduce $12,000 to $15,000 in medical bills, which plaintiff’s counsel claimed was paid. Thus, plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award $130,000 for Kristen Spence’s medical bills, and past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel disputed that Kristen Spence was injured in the accident and contended that Kristen Spence’s must have been pre-existing. Counsel introduced Facebook photographs of Kristen Spence barrel racing about eight months after the accident. Counsel contended that the pictures depicted Kristen Spence partaking in first tier barrel racing, in which she was competing with the best contestants of the four tiers. Defense counsel also presented records of about 10 different barrel racing competitions that Kristen Spence had entered into after the accident and where Kristen Spence received first, second or third prize in some of them. Defense counsel noted that Kristen Spence had a prior medical record from 2007 that indicated that she had tingling in her arm. Counsel contended that although Kristen Spence claimed she had no neck pain or headaches before the accident, Kristen Spence was seen by a chiropractor for neck pain and headaches one year before the accident. Defense counsel also contended that, further back, Kristen Spence’s medical records indicated that she suffered from chronic migraines. In regard to the plaintiff’s lost earnings claim, defense counsel contended that although Kristen Spence went through four different jobs in about three months — each time working as a receptionist — she originally claimed that she left due to problems she had with her boss or due to alleged stress, and not due to physical . Thus, defense counsel argued that Kristen Spence did not quit her positions due to any physical pain or injury. In addition, defense counsel contended that Kristen Spence’s mother allegedly paid $12,500 out-of-pocket for her daughter’s medical bills, but that there was no evidentiary support of this.
Superior Court of San Mateo County, San Mateo, CA

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