Case details

Plaintiff blamed motorist for crash that caused lingering pain





Result type

Not present

chronic pain, hand, pain syndrome
On Sept. 4, 2013, plaintiff Malissa Jemison, 25, a student, was driving west on Pico Boulevard, near its intersection with Fairfax Avenue, in Los Angeles. While Jemison was proceeding through the intersection, the front, left corner of her vehicle was struck by a vehicle driven by Ian Kessner, who was traveling east on Pico Boulevard. Jemison claimed of a hand. Jemison’s younger sister, Amanda, a passenger in her vehicle at the time of the accident, was three months pregnant and claimed minor back . The Jemisons sued Kessner. They alleged that Kessner was negligent in the operation of his vehicle. Amanda Jemison negotiated a separate settlement with Kessner prior to trial. Thus, the matter proceeded to trial with Malissa Jemison’s claims against Kessner. Malissa Jemison claimed that she entered the intersection as the traffic light turned yellow. She further claimed that Kessner rushed into the intersection, attempting to make a left turn onto Fairfax Avenue from the far right lane, and struck her vehicle. Kessner conceded liability, and the matter proceeded to a jury trial that addressed damages., Malissa Jemison was transported by ambulance to the emergency room at Kaiser Permanente, West Los Angeles. She was initially diagnosed with a contusion of her right hand and received minor treatment. However, when her pain did not subside, Jemison sought care from an orthopedist three weeks later. She was then referred for an MRI that revealed that she had suffered a non-displaced fracture of the base of the second metacarpal and a contused base of the third metacarpal of her right hand. She was subsequently given a sling and splint for her right arm and hand. While the fracture healed, Jemison claimed that she ultimately developed complex regional pain syndrome, also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy or causalgia, a chronic pain condition, as a direct result of the trauma from the accident. She claimed that her pain continued to worsen in the months following the accident and that she underwent nerve conduction studies, MRIs, ultrasounds, and other tests to rule out potential causes. Jamison was eventually diagnosed with CRPS more than a year after the crash. The plaintiff’s expert doctors all testified that Jemison definitively had CRPS. They also suggested long-term treatments that included an implanted spinal cord stimulator, ketamine injections, narcotic pain medications, and anti-depressant medications. Plaintiff’s counsel acknowledged that Jemison had opposed all of the possible recommended treatments due to their controversial and invasive nature, hallucinogenic components, and likely side effects. He argued that although Jemison refused care, it did not negate the fact that Jemison has the condition and still needs treatment. Jemison stated that she had sought a medical coding job prior to the collision and had been accepted to a training program, but was unable to follow through on the opportunity after the accident. Thus, Jemison sought recovery of damages for her past and future pain and suffering, future medical expenses, and future lost earnings. Defense counsel questioned whether Jemison actually had CRPS, arguing that Jemison was exaggerating symptoms unrelated to the condition. Counsel also opined that if Jemison did not get treatment before, there was no reason to believe that she would in the future. Defense counsel also presented a sub rosa video with surveillance footage of Jemison that had been filmed over the course of a year leading up to trial. Counsel contended that it showed Jemison leading a normal life and still participating in common, everyday activities. In response, Jemison’s counsel cited evidence code on the rule of completeness, and objected to the admissibility of the video as evidence. He claimed that according to written observation documents, whole segments of the video that had been filmed were missing, deleted, or destroyed. Defense counsel countered that less than 10 seconds of footage was missing and that the missing footage was due to a technical computer error that occurred when the video was being spliced from two different cameras. Judge Anthony Mohr overruled plaintiff’s counsel’s objections and allowed the video to be played for the jury after a 402 hearing.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA

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