Case details

Plaintiff claimed rear-end crash aggravated lower back injuries




Mediated Settlement

Result type

Not present

aggravation of pre-existing condition surgeries, facetectomy, foraminectomy, foraminotomy, laminectomy, lumbar, treatment
On April 13, 2016, plaintiff Richard Chavez, 44, a pizza delivery driver, was driving on eastbound Baseline Road, in Rancho Cucamonga, when he stopped behind another vehicle at the intersection with Hermosa Avenue. While stopped at a red light, his mid-size vehicle was rear-ended by a sport utility vehicle operated by Anthony Smalls. Chavez claimed to his lower back. Chavez sued Smalls and the owner of Smalls’ vehicle, Smalls’ brother, James Smith. Chavez alleged that Smalls was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that Smith was vicariously liable for Smalls’ actions. Plaintiff’s counsel noted that the officer at the scene claimed that Smalls smelled like beer and that even though Smalls told the officer that he had just two beers earlier in the day, the officer allegedly noticed that both of Smalls’ eyes had a horizontal gaze nystagmus, an involuntary jerking of the eyes as the eyes gaze toward the side. Counsel also noted that Smalls failed sobriety tests and was arrested for driving under the influence. Plaintiff’s counsel asserted that despite the fact that Smalls had a prior DUI and understood that his judgment might be impaired by the alcohol he had consumed, he made no effort to avoid getting behind the wheel that day. At his deposition, Smalls admitted that he had spent the afternoon before the crash drinking shots of Tequila while shopping with his other brother, Paul Smith., Chavez claimed he suffered an aggravation of his prior lower back . He was taken to a hospital, and ultimately underwent two procedures as a result of his alleged from the subject accident. Chavez first underwent a lumbar decompression at L3-4 on June 25, 2018, and then underwent a lumbar laminectomy with a facetectomy and a foraminectomy on the L3-4 level on Oct. 1, 2018. Chavez previously underwent surgery on his lower back several years before the subject accident, and he was still treating from a 2015 crash at the time of the subject accident. The plaintiff’s treating orthopedic surgeon opined that an MRI performed after the subject April 2016 crash showed substantial changes to Chavez’s lumbar spine since Chavez’s pre-crash MRI. Chavez claimed he may potentially require future surgery at the adjacent levels of his lumbar spine. Chavez sought recovery of $108,648.46 in past medical costs and $8,600 in loss of earnings. He also sought recovery of future medical costs, and damages for his past and future pain and suffering.
Superior Court of San Bernardino County, San Bernardino, CA

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