Case details

Plaintiff claimed multiple impact rear-ender caused neck injury





Result type

Not present

back, herniated disc, neck, nerve impingement, nerve impingement neck, neurological, stenosis
On July 11, 2012, at about 6 p.m., plaintiff Karen Gravelle, 52, a district manager at Wells Fargo, was driving a 2007 Mercedes Benz S550 in Fresno. When Gravelle was at the intersection of North First Street and East Nees Avenue, her vehicle was rear-ended by a 2001 Ford Escape operated by David Sather, who was rear-ended by a 2006 GMC C1500 operated by Robert Vasilovich. The GMC sustained major front-end damage, with positive air bag deployment, and was determined to be a total loss. Gravelle’s Mercedes sustained minor to moderate damage to the left rear, which was estimated to be about $17,000 worth of damage. Gravelle claimed the impact also caused a neck injury that resulted in radiating pain. Gravelle sued Sather and Vasilovich, alleging the defendants were negligent in the operation of their respective vehicles. Specifically, Gravelle claimed Vasilovich rear-ended Sather’s vehicle, pushing the Ford Escape into her Mercedes Benz. Sather was ultimately let out of the case. Vasilovich admitted liability for the accident., Gravelle was not treated at the scene of the accident, but presented to her family doctor two days later with complaints of neck pain that radiated down into her right arm and hand, resulting in numbness and tingling. Gravelle was diagnosed with a herniated cervical disc at the C5-6 level, resulting in nerve root impingement and spinal stenosis. Gravelle claimed she needs to undergo a lamino-foraminotomy, also called a posterior discectomy. Thus, Gravelle sought recovery of past and future medical costs. She also sought recovery of past and future pain and suffering. Gravelle did not make a claim for lost earnings, as she was on disability at the time of trial for an unrelated brain tumor that necessitated chemotherapy. Defense counsel did not dispute Gravelle’s past and future economic damages. Although all the medical experts agreed that Gravelle needed to undergo surgery in the future, the defense’s expert neurosurgeon testified that Gravelle had previous similar complaints of neck and arm pain. In response, the plaintiff’s neurosurgeon experts testified that the alleged prior complaints were speculative and that Gravelle would need surgery for neck pain anyway.
Superior Court of Fresno County, Fresno, CA

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