Case details

Plaintiff claimed intersection crash caused shoulder injury





Result type

Not present

injury, rotator cuff, shoulder shoulder, tear
On the morning of March 30, 2011, plaintiff Geoffrey Ornstein, a 57-year-old disabled man, was operating his vehicle on westbound Dana Drive when he entered the intersection with Churn Creek Road in Redding and was struck by a vehicle operated by John Gardiner, who was heading east on Dana Drive and had attempted a left turn at the intersection. Ornstein claimed to his left shoulder. Ornstein sued Gardiner. He alleged that Gardiner was negligent in the operation of his motor vehicle. Specifically, Ornstein claimed that Gardiner caused the crash by attempting to turn left on a red light. Gardiner conceded liability., Ornstein was not taken to a hospital right away, but went to an emergency room that afternoon and was discharged after doctors found no broken bones. However, Ornstein complained of left, dominant shoulder and arm pain. Ornstein underwent a prior surgery on the left elbow approximately six months before the collision and he had a substantial history of orthopedic medical problems that predated the accident, including degenerative joint disease in his ankles and elbows. However, Ornstein was eventually diagnosed with a rotator cuff tear of the left shoulder shortly after the accident and underwent physical therapy. More than one year after the collision no surgery was scheduled and Ornstein’s medical expenses were paid for by the Veteran’s Administration and Medicare. Defense counsel contended that Ornstein’s shoulder was not injured in the accident and that his pain was caused by either the elbow surgery or orthopedic problems in the neck that predated the accident by several years. The defense’s expert orthopedic surgeon did not attribute the tear to the subject accident, though he opined that it was temporarily aggravated. Defense counsel noted that Ornstein did not mention his shoulder to his VA physicians on April 18, 2011, or April 20, 2011, and it was not until May 27, 2011, that he admitted to a nurse that he had intermittent shoulder pain before and did not know if it was related to the subject accident. Counsel added that Ornstein did not admit to a prior left shoulder surgery in his written discovery or deposition, but asserted that Ornstein hurt his left shoulder in an incident when he fell down stairs on March 21, 2008, in which Ornstein was later diagnosed with bilateral rotator cuff tears. Plaintiff’s counsel noted that the defense’s expert was hired to review the medical records and prepare a report that stated that Ornstein’s shoulder pain could just as likely be caused by prior orthopedic problems as by the motor vehicle collision.
Superior Court of Shasta County, Redding, CA

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