Case details

Plaintiff claimed crash caused neurologic deficit to spine





Result type

Not present

back, brain, brain injury, concussion, contusion, head, myelopathy, neck, nerve damage, neurological, neuropathy, spine
On Aug. 19, 2013, plaintiff Anna Dombrowski, 50, a physical therapist, was stopped behind another car at a mid-block crosswalk, in Davis, when her minivan was rear-ended by a vehicle operated by James Morton. The impact pushed Dombrowski’s vehicle into the stopped car ahead of her. Dombrowski claimed to her neck. Dombrowski sued Morton, alleging that Morton was negligent in the operation of his vehicle. Morton admitted fault for the collision, and confessed on the stand that he had stayed up late the night before because he got caught up in reading a book., Dombrowski claimed that she sustained a contusion to the cervical spine, causing her to develop myelopathy (a neurologic deficit of the spinal cord). Dombrowski claimed that she had neck pain, worsened back pain, and a concussion after the accident. However, since two of Dombrowski’s three young daughters were in the minivan at the time of the impact, Dombrowski refused to be transported form the scene and, instead, took her children to their doctor for treatment of their minor aches, which ultimately resolved. She also called her own doctor, after leaving the scene, and went in to see her doctor the following day. Prior to the collision, Dombrowski had a long history of a pinched nerve in her lower back, spinal canal stenosis in her neck, and weakness in her right arm due to thoracic outlet syndrome. A pre-accident MRI, taken four weeks before the collision, showed a narrow canal and mild compression of the spinal cord. However, Dombrowski claimed the collision caused a contusion to the spinal cord in her neck and caused her to develop myelopathy. The plaintiff’s experts in orthopedic surgery, radiology, and physical medicine and rehabilitation all identified a mild signal change in the spinal cord as a cord contusion consistent with symptoms of progressive myelopathy. Between August 2013 and December 2013, Dombrowski had progressively worsening symptoms of myelopathy, including arm and leg numbness, weakness, loss of balance and coordination, and incontinence. As a result, Anna was evaluated by numerous Kaiser physicians, including a physical medicine doctor, a neurologist, and two spinal surgeons. She also underwent several months of therapy, but allegedly had no improvement. Ultimately, a specialist outside of Kaiser wrote a note to the Kaiser physicians, warning that Dombrowski should again see a spinal surgeon. As a result, on Dec. 24, 2013, Dombrowski saw an orthopedic surgeon, who recommended surgery. Dombrowski then underwent a two-level cervical fusion at C4-5 and C5-6. Dombrowski claimed that the surgery relieved many of her symptoms, but that she continues to suffer from weakness and fatigue that affects her ability to play with her daughters and work as a therapist full time. She alleged that she can now only work three days a week. As a result, plaintiff’s counsel presented evidence that Dombrowski needs future care to reverse damage occurring to the disc below the fusion, at C6-7, due to the fusion. Defense counsel noted that experts disagreed about the existence of a cord contusion on MRIs two months after the injury. In addition, no Kaiser doctor identified a cord injury for Dombrowski. The defense’s orthopedic surgery and radiology experts each testified that Dombrowski did not have a cord contusion and that Dombrowski’s cord compression pre-existed the collision.
Superior Court of Yolo County, Yolo, CA

Recommended Experts


Get a FREE consultation for your case