Case details

Plaintiff: Accident with reversing SUV caused cervical herniation





Result type

Not present

cervical, fusion, herniated disc, neck
On Aug. 16, 2010, plaintiff Johnna Janis, 33, a triathlete, model and student, was driving on northbound Morena Boulevard in San Diego. As she approached the intersection with Napa Street, Janis was front-ended by a reversing sport utility vehicle operated by Patrick Wade. Janis claimed to her neck. Janis sued Wade and Wade’s employer, WD-40 Co., which also owned the SUV. Janis also sued a subsidiary of WD-40 Co., WD-40 Manufacturing Co. He alleged that Wade was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that WD-40 Co. and WD-40 Manufacturing Co. were vicariously liable for Wade’s actions. Wade was dismissed from the case via course and scope, and WD-40 admitted liability for the accident. Thus, the matter proceeded to a trial on causation and damages., On the day after the accident, Janis presented to an emergency room with complaints of neck pain. She was then referred to a neurosurgeon and diagnosed with a disc herniation at C5-6, as well as an aggravation of pre-existing severe spinal stenosis. She subsequently underwent three months of physical therapy, chiropractic care, and epidural injections. Three neurosurgeons opined that Janis did not require surgery, but a fourth neurosurgeon, Dr. Sanjay Ghosh, recommended a cervical fusion at C5-6 and C6-7. Thus, on Nov. 9, 2010, Janis underwent a discectomy and fusion at C5-6 and C6-7, followed by some physical therapy. Janis claimed the surgery was successful and that by July 2011, she returned to her pre-accident state. However, she claimed minor residuals until December 2013, when, after experiencing severe pain, she was diagnosed with adjacent level cervical disc disease at the C4 level, above the surgical site. Janis claimed that as a result, she requires another cervical fusion. Janis claimed her neck condition has affected her once active lifestyle. She alleged that she used to be a triathlete/marathon runner and model, and that she was working on a documentary film, but that all of those activities have been adversely affected by her severe neck pain. Thus, Janis stipulated to $102,550 in past medical costs, and sought recovery of $213,500 in future medical costs, $1 million in damages for her past pain and suffering, and $2 million in damages for her future pain and suffering. Her husband, Dean Janis, original brought a loss of consortium claim, but it was dismissed prior to trial. Defense counsel disputed the need and cost for Mrs. Janis’ future neck fusion. Defense counsel also contended that the plaintiff’s treating/expert neurosurgeon allocated future medical costs and future pain and suffering to events and conditions other than the subject car accident.
Superior Court of San Diego County, San Diego, CA

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