Case details

Plaintiff claimed near head-on crash caused cervical injuries




Mediated Settlement

Result type

Not present

herniated disc, neck, neurological, radicular pain, radiculitis
On Dec. 19, 2009, at approximately 4:15 p.m., plaintiff Michelle Hatata, 47, an IT manager, was driving on westbound Lake Street in Presidio Heights when she entered the intersection with 5th Avenue and was involved in a near head-on collision with a vehicle operated by Timothy Fresch, who was attempting a left turn from eastbound Lake Street onto 5th Avenue. Hatata claimed to her lower back. Hatata sued Timothy Fresch and the registered owner of the vehicle, Eric Fresch, who was Timothy Fresch’s father. Hatata alleged that Timothy Fresch was negligent in the operation of the vehicle and that Eric Fresch was vicariously liable for his son’s actions. Hatata claimed that Timothy Fresch failed to yield to oncoming traffic at the subject intersection, causing the collision. Timothy Fresch admitted liability for the purpose of mediation., Twenty-nine days after the accident, Hatata presented to a chiropractor with complaints of lower back pain. She then continued treating with the chiropractor through March 2010 and underwent a cervical MRI on March 4, 2010, which revealed herniations at C5-6 and C6-7. Hatata subsequently received pain management consisting of epidural, facet block and medial branch block injections. Hatata claimed she had minimal improvement, but still deals with lower back pain with radicular symptoms that interfere with her ability to work. She also claimed she had to curtail certain physical activities, such as skiing, as she became extremely sore afterwards. Hatata claimed that as a result, she later received a neurological consultation and recommendation for surgery. Thus, Hatata sought recovery of $28,000 in paid medical bills and $150,000 to $250,000 in future medical costs, consisting of pain management and surgery. She also sought recovery of damages for her past and future pain and suffering. Her husband, Tarek Hatata, sought recovery of damages for his loss of consortium. Defense counsel asserted that due to the insufficient forces involved, Ms. Hatata could not have suffered herniations at that speed of the collision, which occurred at less than 20 mph. Counsel also asserted that Ms. Hatata did not report any pain at the scene of the accident and that she did not seek care for 29 days. Defense counsel contended that MRI findings showed that Ms. Hatata’s were atraumatic and due to degenerative changes. Counsel also contended that Mrs. Hatata’s pre-existing, degenerative changes were of a sufficient advanced degree in that she would have become symptomatic regardless of the collision. In addition, defense counsel contended that surgery was not recommended for Ms. Hatata’s condition.
Superior Court of San Francisco County, San Francisco, CA

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