Case details

Plaintiff claimed collision caused need for fusion surgery





Result type

Not present

back, bulging disc, cervical, depression, fusion, intervertebral disc bulge, lower back, lumbar, lumbar neck, mental, neck, nerve impingement, neurological, psychological, radiculopathy, sprain, sprains, strain, strains neck
On May 9, 2010, plaintiff Sonia Nelson, 40, a therapist, was driving in Victorville with plaintiff Dragos Negoescu, a man in his 50s, as a front-seated passenger in her vehicle. As they were eastbound on Roy Rogers Drive, the passenger’s side of their vehicle was struck by a vehicle exiting a Home Depot parking lot. As a result, Nelson’s vehicle spun out, struck two palm trees, and came to rest on the sidewalk. Nelson claimed of her neck and back, and Negoescu also claimed he was injured in the accident. Nelson and Negoescu sued the driver of the other vehicle, Marco Sanchez, and the owner of Sanchez’s vehicle, Sanchez Family Corp., which was doing business as McDonald’s East. Nelson and Negoescu alleged that Sanchez was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that Sanchez Family Corp. was vicariously liable for Sanchez’s actions. Negoescu settled his claim against the defendants in 2014 and was not part of the trial. Sanchez ultimately conceded liability, and the trial addressed Nelson’s alleged damages., Nelson was placed in an ambulance and transported to an emergency room where she complained of pain in her neck and lower back, which radiated into her lower extremities. She received minor treatment and was released. Nelson ultimately claimed that she suffered an intervertebral disc bulge at L5-S1 that impinged on the S1 nerve root; sprains and strains of the soft tissue in her cervical spine; and radiculopathy, causing pain, numbness and weakness in her legs. She also claimed that the accident caused an aggravation of her pre-existing depression. Nelson presented to a chiropractor and quickly commenced a course of chiropractic care. The treatment lasted for about six months and was typically rendered two-to-three times per week. She also commenced a course of physical therapy that lasted for about three months. When her conditions did not improve, Nelson underwent epidural injections to her lumbar spine in 2012. She then underwent a lumbar fusion at the L5-S1 level in October 2014. However, when the fusion failed, Nelson underwent a revisionary surgery of the L5-S1 level in February 2016. Nelson also continued to treat with an orthopedist in between her treatments and surgeries. The plaintiff’s treating orthopedist testified that Nelson’s lumbar disc bulge was causally related to the subject accident. Nelson claimed that she continues to suffer from pain in her lower back and legs, as well as a diminution in the range of motion in her lower back. She also claimed that she occasionally requires the use of a walker or a cane when ambulating. As a result, she continues to receive ongoing treatment from an orthopedist. Nelson further claimed that she was unable to work after the accident and was, therefore, unable to complete her training to become a family therapist. Thus, Nelson sought recovery of damages totaling approximately $2.5 million for her past and future pain and suffering, past and future medical expenses, and past and future lost wages. The defense’s expert orthopedic surgeon opined that Nelson only suffered sprains and strains of the neck and back as a result of the accident. The expert also opined that the surgery Nelson underwent was not causally related to the subject accident and was necessitated by degenerative changes. The defense’s expert radiologist opined that the plaintiff’s were pre-existing in nature and that the manifestation of the nerve impingement in Nelson’s lumbar spine was not causally related to the subject accident. Thus, defense counsel argued that Nelson’s were degenerative in nature and that Nelson’s psychological pre-dated the subject accident. Counsel also argued that Nelson’s treatment featured multi-year gaps and, therefore, Nelson’s were not as serious as claimed.
Superior Court of San Bernardino County, Victorville, CA

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