Case details

Plaintiff claimed second crash caused shoulder injury





Result type

Not present

back, dominant shoulder, neck
In October 2007, plaintiff Zita Oxford, a self-employed massage therapist in her 50s, was involved in a rear-end accident with a vehicle operated by Jack Sopinski. Approximately five months later, on March 5, 2008, Oxford was operating her vehicle in Santa Monica when she broadsided a vehicle operated by Arthur Hindson, who pulled away from a stop sign. The front of Oxford’s vehicle struck the left, rear wheel of Hindson’s vehicle. Oxford claimed to her neck, back and right dominant shoulder. Oxford sued Sopinski and Hindson, alleging the defendants were negligent in the operation of their respective vehicles. Sopinski agreed to settle in April 2011, and the matter proceeded to a trial against Hindson only in 2013. However, the case against Hindson was ruled a mistrial, and the matter was sent back for a retrial. Hindson admitted liability, so the retrial address damages only., Oxford claimed that at the time of the accident with Hindson, she was still under treatment for the she alleged from the 2007 accident with Sopinski. Oxford claimed that as a result, she reported the 2008 accident when presented for her previously scheduled appointment one week later. She claimed soft-tissue to her neck and back, and an internal derangement of her right shoulder, which included a tear of the glenoid labrum, a subacromial impingement and bursitis. Oxford subsequently treated for one month, and then stopped all care and treatment when she moved to Arizona. She then saw physicians in Arizona in 2010 and, in June 2011, returned the physician she previously saw in Southern California back in 2008. She underwent surgery for her shoulder derangement in November 2011. Oxford claimed she had some limitations post-surgery, but her condition has mostly resolved. She further claimed that some three months after the second accident, she had to abandon her career as a massage therapist. The plaintiff’s biomechanical expert opined that the 2008 accident produced forces sufficient to cause the alleged and were responsible for the replacement of the Oxford vehicle’s four engine mounts. Thus, plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award Oxford $1.5 million in damages. Defense counsel contended that Oxford stopped working prior to the 2008 accident. Counsel also contended that the 2008 accident was minor and that if the shoulder was injured, it was due to the 2007 accident. Defense counsel argued that there was no evidence, mechanically, to show that Oxford’s shoulder was injured in the 2008 accident, pointing to the defense’s biomechanical expert finding a lack of damage to the vehicles. Specifically, the defense’s biomechanical expert testified that judging from the apparently minor damage to the bumper of Oxford’s vehicle and the alloy wheel of Hindson’s vehicle, the forces in the accident were insufficient to cause the alleged by Oxford. Defense counsel argued that, instead, Oxford’s shoulder, if injured, was attributable to repetitive trauma from giving massages as part of her job.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Van Nuys, CA

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