Case details

Plaintiff claimed rotator cuff tear related to rear-end crash





Result type

Not present

injury, rotator cuff, shoulder shoulder, tear
On April 16, 2016, plaintiff Rigoberto Fragoza, 62, a truck driver, was driving in stop and go traffic on the northbound side of Interstate 5, also known as the Golden State Freeway, in Los Angeles. When he was near the exit for Whittier Boulevard, his vehicle was rear-ended by a vehicle operated by Nancy Castle. Fragoza claimed to his neck, back and shoulders. Fragoza sued Castle. Fragoza alleged that Castle was negligent in the operation of her vehicle. Castle admitted liability for the accident on the eve of trial. The trial addressed damages., Fragoza claimed that he sustained soft tissue to his neck, back and left shoulder, as well as a torn rotator cuff to his right shoulder. Two days after the collision, Fragoza reported to a physician with complaints of neck, back and bilateral shoulder pain. He underwent conservative treatment, which included physical therapy. On May 25, 2016, he underwent an X-ray of the right shoulder, which was unremarkable and showed the clavicle intact. He stopped physical therapy on July 15, 2016 when the pain to his left shoulder, neck and back had resolved. However, when his right shoulder pain remained and would not improve, Fragoza sought orthopedic treatment in December 2016. Fragoza also underwent an MRI on Dec. 12, 2016, which showed tears of the right rotator cuff as well as migration of the clavicle and retraction of the tendons. Fragoza’s expert orthopedic surgeon opined that the shoulder shown on the December 2016 MRI were caused by the subject accident eight months prior, and recommended surgery to repair the shoulder at a cost of $31,000. Fragoza claimed that he suffered pain and suffering since the incident. He alleged that as a result, he has been unable to perform tasks around the home that he was accustomed to without pain, or not at all, such as throwing out the garbage or repairing ceiling tiles. He also alleged that his pain affected his ability to perform activities with his children and grandchildren, such as throwing a baseball or Frisbee. Fragoza claimed that he is expected to suffer future pain and suffering for at least one year due to the recommended surgery and recovery, including the anxiety, grief and stress of preparing for the surgery and actually undergoing the procedure. He also claimed that he is prevented from working for months after the surgery and that his expert physicians agreed that he would not recover fully for at least one year. Defense counsel disputed the extent of damages caused by Castle’s negligence. The defense’s expert orthopedic surgeon did not dispute that the pain to Fragoza’s neck, back and shoulders was caused by collision. However, the expert opined that the subject collision did not cause Fragoza’s right rotator cuff tear and that all of Fragoza’s had resolved by July 15, 2016. The expert explained that his finding regarding Fragoza’s right rotator cuff was based on a study that concluded that 56 percent of people over the age of 60 have at least a partial rotator cuff. As a result, the defense’s expert orthopedic surgeon concluded that because the X-ray from May 25, 2016 was unremarkable, and because the MRI on Dec. 12, 2016 showed the clavicle had migrated and there was a 22-millimeter retraction, the findings were consistent with movement in the shoulder of the bone and tissue over the eight months since the incident.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Alhambra, CA

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