Case details

Plaintiff’s back and neck claims not related to crash: defense





Result type

Not present

back, degenerative disc condition, exacerbation of, neck
On July 3, 2008, at approximately 5:10 p.m., plaintiff John Gutzweiler III, an unemployed 47 year old, was driving on a busy freeway in Los Angeles when he was rear-ended by a vehicle operated by Robert Hulbert. As a result of the impact, Gutzweiler’s vehicle was pushed into a third vehicle, allegedly causing him to sustain neck and back . Gutzweiler sued Hulbert, alleging the defendant was negligent in the operation of his vehicle. Specifically, Gutzweiler claimed that Hulbert was speeding and driving inattentively, causing the rear-ender that resulted in the braking of his car seat. Hulbert admitted liability for the accident, and the matter proceeded to a trial on causation and damages., Four days after the accident, on July 7, 2008, Gutzweiler presented to a chiropractor with complaints of neck and back pain. He then saw an orthopedist, who performed MRIs and CT scans that showed degenerative disc conditions to Gutzweiler’s cervical and lumbar spine. Gutzweiler ultimately underwent neck surgery on May 25, 2011, consisting of a posterior cervical hemilaminectomy and a keyhole neural foraminotomy. Gutzweiler claimed he still has debilitating residual symptoms in his neck and back, which prevented him from returning to the workforce and restricted all of his physical activity. Thus, he sought recovery of $189,283.38 in past medical costs, $100,000 in future medical costs, and an unspecified amount of damages for his past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel argued that the impact of the accident was relatively minor, and did not cause any serious injury to Gutzweiler’s neck or back. Counsel also argued that neither Gutzweiler’s treatment nor current condition was related to the accident.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA

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