Case details

Plaintiff claimed accident aggravated prior hip condition





Result type

Not present

hip, hip replacement
On March 24, 2009, plaintiff Robert Meyer, 55, a caterer, was rolling to a stop on southbound Highway 101, approaching the Central San Rafael off ramp in San Rafael, when his vehicle was rear-ended by a vehicle operated by John Armanini. Meyer claimed to his back, neck and right hip. Meyer sued Mr. Armanini and the owner of his vehicle, Patricia Armanini. Meyer alleged that Mr. Armanini was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that Ms. Armanini was vicariously liable for his actions. Mr. Armanini claimed that he was changing lanes from the middle lane into the far right lane, right behind Meyer, who was already in the far right lane. However, he claimed that as he changed lanes, he looked over his shoulder again at the traffic approaching from behind and when he looked back, Meyer had stopped. Thus, Mr. Armanini claimed he was unable to stop in time and rear-ended Meyer’s vehicle., Two days after the accident, Meyer presented to Novato Community Hospital in Novato and reported soreness to his neck and back. The next day, on March 27, 2009, he presented to a Kaiser Permanente Medical Center with the same complaints of neck and back stiffness, and inquired about chiropractic care. Meyer claimed that he injured his neck and back in the accident, and that a prior arthritic condition in his right hip was aggravated in the crash. Prior to the accident, Meyer reported pain to his hip and back in June 2007. His primary care physician at Kaiser Permanente subsequently ordered an X-ray of Meyer’s hips and informed Meyer that it showed significant osteoarthritis of his right hip, which could explain his report of pain. A few weeks after the crash, on April 13, 2009, Meyer saw his treating chiropractor and indicated that his prior hip condition had been aggravated by the rear-end accident and that he also had neck and back pain. He subsequently continued treating with the chiropractor until July 15, 2009. Meyer claimed that his neck pain cleared up in a couple of weeks and that his back pain cleared up within a couple of months. However, he alleged that he returned to Kaiser about his hip in June 2009 and that his primary care physician initially diagnosed him with lumbar radiculitis. However, after further discussions, the physician determined that the pain was coming from the hip. As a result, Meyer was referred to an expert in orthopedics at Kaiser Permanente. A repeat hip X-ray was then performed in July 2009 and it demonstrated that Meyer had severe, right-sided osteoarthritis. As a result, Meyer received several cortisone injections, but he claimed they provided only temporary relief of symptoms. He alleged that when his pain kept progressing, he contacted the expert orthopedist and reported that he could no longer function with the pain. In addition, Meyer alleged that he had significant pain when standing, causing him to limp and have trouble walking. As a result, on Oct. 5, 2010, Meyer underwent a total right hip replacement. The plaintiff’s orthopedic surgery expert testified that the total hip replacement was a success and Meyer claimed that he no longer has pain. Meyer, a self-employed caterer, claimed that he continued working through his pain and limitations prior to the hip replacement. However, he alleged he worked less time. He claimed that after the surgery, he stayed off work for the recommended four-to-six weeks, but has since returned. According to defense counsel, the plaintiff’s orthopedic surgery expert testified that the need for surgery was not caused by the accident, but was caused by Meyer’s osteoarthritis. However, the expert testified that based on what the patient reported to him, the accident may have increased Meyer’s symptoms. The plaintiff’s expert also testified that he could not say whether the accident caused Meyer to have the surgery sooner than he would have, had the accident not occurred, as this was speculation. In addition, the plaintiff’s orthopedic surgery expert could not say whether it was medically more likely than not that Meyer would need a revision surgery later in life to either replace the original artificial hip or to replace parts of it. According to plaintiff’s counsel, the court would not allow into evidence the reasonable value of the Kaiser Permanente treatment or the reasonable value of the hip replacement. The defense’s expert testified that he agreed that the accident did not cause the need for the surgery. He also testified that the evidence did not support a finding that the accident aggravated Meyer’s longstanding hip arthritis. The expert testified that, instead, the evidence showed that Meyer had complaints of hip pain nine weeks before the accident, during which Meyer was prescribed narcotic medications. Defense counsel contended that, following the accident, Meyer did not report any hip pain for almost three weeks and that if Meyer had indeed injured his arthritic hip, he would have reported the complaints much sooner. In addition, defense counsel submitted into evidence photographs of Meyer’s vehicle, which plaintiff’s counsel objected to because they were allegedly taken after the vehicle was repaired and had no relevance to the property damage sustained to the vehicle as a result of the collision.
Superior Court of Marin County, Marin, CA

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