Case details

Plaintiff claimed seat belt injured penis during collision





Result type

Not present

chest, fracture, sternum
On Sept. 12, 2017, plaintiff Kevin Richardson, 55, was driving on Campus Drive, in Irvine. As he entered the intersection with University Drive, his vehicle was broadsided by a vehicle operated by Robert Renzi. Richardson claimed to a shoulder, neck and groin. Richardson sued Renzi and the owner of Renzi’s vehicle, Renzi’s father, Joseph Renzi Jr. Richardson alleged that Robert Renzi was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that Joseph Renzi Jr. was vicariously liable for Robert Renzi’s actions. Richardson also alleged that Joseph Renzi Jr. was negligent in the entrustment of the vehicle to his son. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that Robert Renzi was driving while intoxicated and ran the red light on University Drive, causing the collision. Counsel also contended that Joseph Renzi Jr. knowingly let his son use his car without any safety measures to prevent drunken driving, such as an interlock device. The Renzis admitted liability for the accident. Joseph Renzi Jr. also admitted to negligently entrusting the vehicle to Robert Renzi., Richardson sustained a fractured sternum. He also claimed he suffered neck pain and a penis injury as a result of the accident. Richardson was taken to a hospital, where his chief complaint was the fractured sternum. However, he claimed that as a result of his penis injury, he developed Peyronie’s disease, which is fibrous scar tissue that forms inside the penis and causes curved, painful erections. Richardson underwent many months of treatment, which included dozens of injections into his penis, among other things. However, he claimed his condition did not significantly improve. Richardson also received epidural injections to treat his neck pain, but no surgery was recommended. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that the impact speed of the collision was approximately 20 mph, which was enough force for the seat belt shoulder harness to cause the sternum fracture. Counsel also contended that when Richardson was thrown forward in the crash, the lap belt struck the base of his penis, which caused minor trauma that went unnoticed at the time, and that the minor trauma to Richardson’s penis developed into scar tissue, which turned into a "lump" that Richardson noticed a few weeks after the accident. Plaintiff’s counsel further contended that the lump was the early presentation of Peyronie’s disease and that Richardson’s condition grew progressively worse, causing him to develop a 30 degree curvature in his penis within a year. Richardson’s total medical bills were under $15,000, which would have been waived if the matter had proceeded to trial. Thus, he sought recovery of general damages for his past and future pain and suffering, the vast bulk of which was related to living with Peyronie’s disease after the accident. Defense counsel disputed the nature and extent of Richardson’s , noting that Richardson did not complain of any groin/penis pain in the emergency room and that there was no medical record of any penis injury as a result of the accident. Counsel asserted that Richardson’s Peyronie’s disease could not possibly have been caused by the accident or by contact with the seat belt. Counsel also asserted that the seat belt could not have impacted Richardson’s penis and that there were no medical studies that have ever causally connected seat belt with Peyronie’s disease.  Further, defense counsel noted that while photos were taken showing minor bruising on Richardson’s sternum, he had no photos showing any injury to his penis. In addition, defense counsel asserted that Richardson was of the typical age when Peyronie’s disease naturally presented itself (mid-fifties) and that Richardson had a genetic predisposition to developing Peyronie’s disease, which had nothing to do with the collision. In response, plaintiff’s counsel noted that the plaintiff’s accident reconstruction expert took photos and measurements of an identical vehicle to the one driven by Richardson at the time of the accident and opined that the edge of the seat belt was close to Richardson’s injured area. Further, after months of searching, plaintiff’s counsel located a medical textbook that mentioned seat belt as a potential cause of Peyronie’s disease.
Superior Court of Orange County, Orange, CA

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