Case details

Plaintiff claimed force of crash caused neck fractures





Result type

Not present

back, fracture, fractured tooth, jaw injury, neck, thoracic spine
On June 16, 2013, plaintiff Oscar Chavez, 40, a general laborer, was a passenger in a vehicle driven by his mother-in-law. Chavez’s wife and three children were also passengers in the vehicle. As they were at a complete stop in the far right lane, or slow lane, due to stop-and-go traffic on the Pomona Freeway, also known as Interstate 60, in Pomona, their vehicle was rear-ended by a vehicle operated by Jacob Kress. The force of the impact projected Chavez into the front dashboard, on which he struck his head. He subsequently claimed of the neck, back, and a tooth. Chavez sued Kress and the owner of Kress’ vehicle, the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Chavez alleged that Kress, a missionary working for the church, was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that the church was vicariously liable for Kress’ actions. Monica Chavez and Guadalupe Alvarez were at one time named as plaintiffs, but they ultimately settled out of the case prior to trial. Oscar Chavez also waved his right to a jury trial, and the matter proceed to a bench trial. Oscar Chavez claimed that Kress failed to keep a proper lookout and failed to brake. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that Kress rear-ended the Chavez vehicle at approximately 45 to 55 mph and that a police officer, who was traveling approximately three or four cars behind the subject vehicles, testified that he did not see brake lights illuminated on Kress’ vehicle prior to impact. Counsel also contended that the force of the impact collapsed the rear seat, where Chavez was sitting, and projected Chavez into the front dashboard, where he struck his head. Defense counsel argued that Chavez failed to wear his seat belt, causing him to allegedly strike the dashboard. However, a paramedic who was on the scene testified that Chavez was wearing a seat belt, as evidenced by a mark on Chavez’s chest, and that Chavez’s family claimed that Chavez was wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision., Oscar Chavez sustained cervical fractures at the C3 and C4 levels, as well as multiple compression fractures throughout the cervical spine, at the C3, C4, C5, C6, and C7 vertebrae. He also sustained a compression fracture of the thoracic spine at the T1 vertebra. In addition, Chavez claimed a jaw injury that resulted in a fractured tooth. He was subsequently transported by ambulance to St. Jude Medical Center, in Fullerton, where he underwent an emergency cervical fusion at the C3-4 level. Following the procedure, Chavez underwent six weeks of physical therapy. He then later underwent an additional eight weeks of physical therapy and received an epidural injection to his neck. Chavez claimed that he developed an infection due to his tooth fracture and that as a result, he required a second hospitalization. Chavez was not able to work for 6.5 months, but then returned to work for 17 months straight. However, his company relocated out of state, so he is now unemployed and in need of re-training. Chavez claimed that he will eventually need additional fusion surgeries at C4-5 and C5-6 levels. Thus, plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award Chavez between $7,787,000 and $8,257,000 in total damages, including awards for past and future medical costs, past and future loss of earnings, and past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel stipulated to Chavez’s medical treatment and bills incurred and paid as reasonable and necessary. However, defense counsel disputed Chavez’s alleged future treatment and costs, arguing that the future surgeries were unlikely and that Chavez would only need periodic management and testing.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA

Recommended Experts


Get a FREE consultation for your case