Case details

Plaintiff alleged crash caused need for spinal fusions





Result type

Not present

back, cervical, fusion, herniated disc, lumbar, neck
On Aug. 7, 2018, plaintiff Christine Delvecchio, 66, a retiree, was driving west on State Route 46, in Lost Hills. As she entered the intersection with Aloma Street, her vehicle was broadsided by a vehicle operated by Cesar Bella, who entered the intersection from northbound Aloma Street. Delvecchio claimed to her neck and back. Delvecchio sued Bella, alleging that Bella was negligent in the operation of his vehicle. Delvecchio’s counsel contended that Bella stopped for the stop sign on Aloma Street prior to the collision, but that Bella failed to yield to traffic as he drove into the intersection and struck Delvecchio’s vehicle. Bella admitted liability for the accident., Delvecchio first presented to a physician three weeks after the collision with complaints of pain to her neck and lower back. She claimed she sustained herniated cervical discs at the C5-6 and C6-7 levels, and a herniated lumbar disc at the L4-5 level. Delvecchio ultimately underwent a lumbar fusion on Oct. 15, 2019, and a cervical fusion on July 7, 2020. Delvecchio acknowledged that she was involved in a prior collision in the 1990s and that she previously complained of neck and lower back pain as a result of that crash. She also acknowledged that she had previously underwent total hip replacements to both the right and left hip as a result of arthritis and degeneration. In addition, she acknowledged that she had been treating with a psychiatrist and taking medication for anxiety and depression for years prior to the subject collision. However, Delvecchio claimed that her neck and back surgeries were necessary and causally related to the subject 2018 accident. Delvecchio contended that her back condition resolved, but that her neck will require another cervical fusion in the future. Delvecchio sought recovery of $550,000 for her past medical costs and $1.5 million for her future medical costs. She also sought recovery of damages for her past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel argued that Delvecchio did not sustain a serious injury from the collision, as the subject accident was minor, noting that there was only minor property damage to both vehicles and that no airbags were deployed. Counsel contended that after the subject accident, Delvecchio was standing outside of her vehicle, taking pictures of the damage, and that Delvecchio did not seek any medical care until three weeks after the collision, when she saw a physician. Counsel further contended that after Delvecchio saw the physician, she did not return to the physician or see another one until two months after the initial visit. As a result, defense counsel argued that Delvecchio only sustained a sprain and/or strain from the subject collision and that the cervical and lumbar fusions were due to Delvecchio’s pre-existing arthritis and/or degenerative disc condition. Defense counsel contended that Delvecchio would have to wait until approximately December 2021 to determine if her cervical fusion worked and that, only then, could it be determined if Delvecchio would need another surgery on her cervical spine. Thus, defense counsel argued that Delvecchio might not need a future cervical fusion.
Superior Court of Kern County, Bakersfield, CA

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