Case details

Plaintiff: Injuries from crash prevented him from working





Result type

Not present

back, bulging disc, cervical, herniated disc, lumbar head neck, neck
On July 27, 2004, plaintiff Clive Alexander, 54, an ironworker, was on State Route 60 in or near Pomona when his Mazda 323 hatchback was rear-ended by an employee driving a 13-ton International flatbed truck of Rent-A-Fence, Ltd. Immediately following the collision, the employee repeatedly apologized and said that he had fallen asleep. Within 24 hours, Alexander began experiencing significant pain. Alexander filed a complaint against Rent-A-Fence, alleging that it was liable for its driver’s motor vehicle negligence. The case went to trial with Alexander’s prior counsel in February 2009, during which the jury found for the plaintiff, but awarded him far less than he believed he should have received. The jury specifically did not award any future economic or noneconomic damages. Alexander believed that certain jurors had committed misconduct during deliberations. Thus, Alexander discharged his attorneys and pursued an appeal pro per. In December 2010, the court of appeals granted Alexander a new trial. During the retrial in January 2012, the plaintiff’s accident reconstruction expert testified that the collision generated significant forces, including a 12-mph-to-14-mph change in velocity of Alexander’s vehicle. Rent-A-Fence conceded that its driver was in the course and scope of his employment with it at the time of the collision. However, defense counsel argued that Alexander may have had some comparative fault, claiming that the plaintiff had unsafely pulled in front of the truck and/or had unsafely slowed once in front of the vehicle. Defense counsel also noted that after the accident, Alexander filed for Social Security Disability, which was approved., Within 24 hours of the accident, Alexander began experiencing significant pain in his head, neck and back, along with pain and numbness in his limbs. He treated with a chiropractor and, over the course of several years, three orthopedic specialists and a neurologist. MRIs of his cervical and lumbar spine showed bulging cervical and lumbar discs at C2-3, C5-6, C6-7 and L5-S1, as well as a cervical herniation at C3-4. The plaintiff’s current, treating orthopedic specialist testified that the collision caused to Alexander’s cervical and lumbar spine, and that Alexander required long-term medical care that included regular epidural injections. Several witnesses also testified regarding their impressions of Alexander both before and after the collision, confirming his inability to work, his physical limitations and his loss of enjoyment of life. The plaintiff’s biomechanics expert testified that the forces involved in the collision and Alexander’s movement inside the vehicle were consistent with medical diagnoses of to the cervical and lumbar spine. Alexander claimed that his affected his daily activities and prevented him from returning to work. The plaintiff’s vocational rehabilitation expert testified that Alexander’s ended his 32-year career as an ironworker and rendered him unable to work in any capacity. According to defense counsel, Alexander sought recovery of damages in the form of past medical expenses of $77,000, future medical expenses of $168,000, future loss of earnings of $309,174, past loss of earnings of $453,003, past pain and suffering of $900,000, and future pain and suffering of $2.4 million. Defense counsel disputed the severity of the plaintiff’s and contended that they were not caused by the crash. The defense’s experts in biomechanics and orthopedics opined that Alexander suffered only minor “strains and sprains” in the collision, and that those likely resolved within two years of the accident. The defense’s neuroradiology expert opined that the herniation and bulging discs in Alexander’s spine were not caused by the collision, but were degenerative in nature. The defense’s vocational rehabilitation expert opined that Alexander’s did not preclude him from working in an occupation other than ironworking.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Pomona, CA

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