Case details

Plaintiff claimed low-speed impact caused disc herniations





Result type

Not present

back, diabetic, neck, ongoing pain
On Feb. 16, 2012, plaintiff William Deloney, 65, a student, was driving a Chrysler 300C in the number one (left) lane on the southbound 110 Harbor Freeway, in Los Angeles, when his vehicle was rear-ended by a vehicle operated by Esmeralda Martinez. Deloney claimed to his back. Deloney sued Martinez; the owner of Martinez’s vehicle, Honda Lease Trust; Martinez’s employer, La Opinion L.P. (which was added as a defendant); and the owner of La Opinion, Oscar Romero. Deloney alleged that Martinez was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that Honda Lease Trust was vicariously liable for Martinez’s actions. He also alleged that La Opinion and Romero were liable for Martinez’s actions while in the course and scope of her employment. Honda Lease Trust was ultimately dismissed from the case. Martinez, Romero and La Opinion conceded liability. Martinez’s primary insurance carrier had a $100,000 policy for Martinez’s vehicle, which the employer’s insurance carrier was responsible for the excess. The employer’s insurer tendered defense to Martinez’s primary insurer., Deloney claimed that he suffered herniated cervical discs at the C5-6 and C6-7 levels, and a herniated lumbosacral disc at the L5-S1 level. Deloney told investigating officers at the scene that he was not injured and refused transport from emergency personnel. He then went from the scene of the crash to school, where he took a final exam. However, four days later, Deloney presented to a chiropractor and later underwent MRIs of his neck and lower back on May 5, 2012. The MRI of his neck showed a 3-millimeter degenerative disc herniation at C5-6 and C6-7, with no cord compression. The MRI of his lower back showed a 3-millimeter disc herniation at L5-S1. Deloney ultimately underwent 30 chiropractic visits before being discharged on May 26, 2012, without any referral for additional treatment. Deloney presented to an anesthesiologist on June 5, 2012, and he received two lumbar epidural injections on Nov. 12, 2012 and Dec. 12, 2012. However, he claimed the injections provided minimal relief. Deloney claimed that his pain continued, but he did not undergo any further treatment up until the time of trial. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that Deloney was an eggshell plaintiff and that the forces in the collision, combined with Deloney’s susceptibility to injury, resulted in and ongoing pain. Deloney claimed that his activities have been restricted and that he will require future medical treatment. The plaintiff’s neurosurgery expert noted that Deloney had a pre-existing heart condition and diabetic neuropathy and that any surgery, such as a decompression, could not be performed. Thus, he recommended physical therapy, pain management, acupuncture, and follow-up visits to a pain management doctor. Deloney’s sought recovery of $41,524 in past medical costs, which were all on a lien, and an unspecified amount of future medical costs. He also sought recovery of damages for his past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel noted that Deloney’s vehicle only sustained minor property damage and disputed the alleged seriousness of Deloney’s condition. The defense’s orthopedic surgery expert testified that Deloney’s chiropractic treatment was reasonable, but opined that Deloney only sustained soft-tissue to the back, which should have resolved six to eight weeks after the accident. The expert also opined that all of Deloney’s complaints were due to Deloney’s diabetic neuropathy and long-standing chronic back pain, and not caused by the collision.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Pasadena, CA

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