Case details

Plaintiff claimed injuries caused by rear-ender on freeway





Result type

Not present

back, chest, fracture, neck, rib, spinous process, spinous process head, vertebra
On Nov. 23, 2009, at approximately midnight, plaintiff Antonio Alvarez, 31, a boilermaker for Shaw Industries, was coming home from work in his Toyota Corolla when he stopped behind an 18-wheeler tractor-trailer on the southbound Santa Ana Freeway in Los Angeles County due to traffic being detoured ahead. As a result, an 18-wheeler tractor-trailer operated by Juan Jose Hernandez rear-ended Alvarez’s vehicle, causing it to become crushed between Hernandez’s tractor-trailer and the tractor-trailer stopped in front of Alvarez’s vehicle. Alvarez subsequently sustained to his back, scalp and liver. Alvarez sued Hernandez and his believed employer(s), J. and H. Trucking, JH Trucking, and JH Transport. He alleged that Hernandez was negligent in the operation of the tractor-trailer and that his employer(s) was vicariously liable for his actions. JH Transport was ultimately found to be the proper named employer of Hernandez. Thus, the other entities were let out of the case, and the matter only proceeded to trial against Hernandez and JH Transport only. Hernandez and JH Transport admitted liability, but questioned the nature and extent of Alvarez’s ., Alvarez was taken by ambulance to UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange, where he was diagnosed with multiple rib fractures, several non-displaced fractures of the thoracic spinous process, and scalp and liver lacerations together with soft-tissue . He subsequently remained at the hospital for several days, and was then discharged home with a back brace and instructions to see a private medical doctor. A week later, Alvarez returned to the emergency department because of back pain. He then came under the care of his treating orthopedic spine specialist. For some two years, Alvarez sought various types of treatment, including physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, chiropractic care and acupuncture. He also claimed he suffered from post-traumatic depression and was evaluated by his treating psychiatrist. Alvarez claimed that he has not been able to return to work because of limitations on heavy lifting. However, he claimed he has been actively looking for work for the past year. The plaintiff’s treating orthopedist opined that Alvarez would eventually need a mid-back surgery. Alvarez’s putative spouse, Martha Ortega, was dismissed from the case at the outset of trial. They live in Victorville with their four children. Plaintiffs’ counsel asked the jury to award just under $2.5 million for Alvarez’s damages. Defense counsel contended that there was nothing wrong with Alvarez. Counsel argued that Alvarez over-treated his and that there was no reason he could not get back to work in some capacity. The defense’s orthopedic expert disputed the plaintiff’s orthopedics expert and countered that Alvarez would not need a future mid-back surgery. In addition, defense counsel called an investigator to show sub rosa surveillance movies taken on 10 separate occasions, which allegedly showed a few minutes of Alvarez riding his ATV around the block and helping his common law wife retrieve groceries from their vehicle. However, plaintiffs’ counsel noted that Alvarez admitted to the incidents depicted in the movies and claimed that he did not want to seem weak in front of his kids.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Norwalk, CA

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