Case details

Plaintiff claimed crash caused spine and shoulder injuries





Result type

Not present

back, bulging disc, cervical, facet syndrome, neck, shoulder, shoulder impingement
On June 20, 2016, plaintiff Yolonda Lovejoy, 58, an accountant and bookkeeper, was driving on Branciforte Street, in Santa Cruz. One side of her vehicle was struck by a taxi that was being driven by Yong Im Yoon. Lovejoy claimed that she suffered of her back, her neck and a shoulder. Lovejoy sued Yoon and the owner Yoon’s vehicle, Santa Cruz Transportation LLC. Lovejoy alleged that Yoon was negligent in the operation of her vehicle and that Santa Cruz Transportation was vicariously liable for Yoon’s actions. Lovejoy claimed that she had a green light and that Yoon ran a red light, causing the collision. Plaintiff’s counsel noted that Yoon’s taxi was equipped with a dashboard camera, which showed that Yoon had run a red light, traveling nearly 30 mph. Yoon initially claimed that she had the green light and that Lovejoy ran a red light. One month before trial, Yoon’s dashboard-camera video was produced, and Yoon ultimately admitted liability for the accident., Lovejoy claimed that she suffered bulges of her C4-5 and C5-6 intervertebral discs. She also claimed that she suffered lumbar facet syndrome, impingement of her left shoulder and bursitis of her left shoulder. Lovejoy began medical care the day after the accident and, in the ensuing years, underwent conservative care for her shoulder and received epidural injections for her neck. She also underwent a series of trigger point injections to her back, decompression surgery on her left shoulder, radiofrequency ablation to her lumbar spine, and a two-level cervical discectomy. Lovejoy claimed that her affected her quality of life, including her ability to hike. Lovejoy’s expert orthopedist opined that Lovejoy will require further radiofrequency ablation and that, within 15 years, Lovejoy will require further surgery to her cervical spine. Lovejoy sought recovery of damages for past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel denied that Lovejoy was injured in the accident, noting that Lovejoy did not take an ambulance from the scene, but, rather, walked home for more than a mile. The defense’s expert physiatrist opined that, though Lovejoy’s past medical treatment was reasonable, the cause of most of Lovejoy’s complaints was not related to the car accident. Instead, the expert opined that other outside influences, including an ongoing harassment claim against her former employer, an ongoing landlord-tenant dispute and other personal stressors caused Lovejoy’s complaints. The expert also opined that Lovejoy would not require further surgery and that Lovejoy would require little to no future care. In addition, the expert opined that Lovejoy was out for “secondary gain” and that Lovejoy’s complaints were psychosomatic in nature. During plaintiff’s counsel’s cross-examination of the defense’s expert, it was disclosed that the physician had been retained by the defense law firm many times over the prior 25 years and that the physician admitted that no other firm in the state had hired him more during the last four years.
Superior Court of Santa Cruz County, Santa Cruz, CA

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