Case details

Plaintiff: Crash caused ruptured cervical disc, requiring fusion





Result type

Not present

back, cervical, fusion, neck, nerve impingement, neurological, radiculopathy
On May 10, 2011, at approximately 6:30 p.m., plaintiff Teresa Gamage, 56, a stay-at-home grandmother, was a front seat passenger in a vehicle stopped for a red light on Spaulding Drive, at the intersection with Olympic Boulevard in Beverly Hills, when she was rear-ended by a vehicle operated by Estelle Roitblat. Gamage claimed to her neck. Gamage sued Roitblat, alleging the defendant was negligent in the operation of her vehicle. Roitblat admitted liability for the accident, and only contested the nature and extent of Gamage’s alleged and damages., After the accident, Gamage went home and then, within hours, went to the emergency room at UCLA Medical Center, in Los Angeles, to treat pain symptoms to her neck. Three weeks after the accident, she underwent an MRI, which was initially read as showing degenerative disc disease with a 3- to 4-millimeter disc bulge at C5-6 that was not impinging on the spinal cord. However, Gamage’s treating neurosurgeon determined that there was a ruptured disc at C5-6 that was impinging on the spinal cord and causing radiculopathy. Gamage initially treated with conservative care, consisting of physical therapy and epidural injections, which she claimed did not relieve her pain. She ultimately underwent a cervical fusion at C5-6 in November 2011. Gamage, and all of her medical experts, contended that she would never return to her active, pre-injury lifestyle, when she would take care of her children and grandchildren, which included cooking, cleaning, driving, assisting her grandchildren with homework, and other activities. In addition, the plaintiff’s medical experts opined that Gamage will likely require an adjacent level fusion as well as significant pain management for the rest of her life. Thus, Gamage sought recovery of $197,752.52 in past medical costs and $1,904,711.10 in future medical costs. She also sought recovery of $6 million in damages for her pain and suffering. Defense counsel contended that the subject impact was at such a low rate of speed that it resulted in no damage to Roitblat’s vehicle and only negligible damage to the vehicle Gamage was traveling in. Counsel argued that as such, the accident could not have caused any neck injury. Defense counsel also disputed the reasonableness of Gamage’s medical bills, need for future treatment, and value of her alleged pain and suffering. The defense’s billing expert testified that the reasonable value of Gamage’s medical service was only $91,000.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Pasadena, CA

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