Case details

Plaintiffs claimed injuries from broadside accident





Result type

Not present

back, chest, elbows, emotional distress, left ankle, mental, neck, neurological, psychological, radicular pain, radiculitis, right hip, right knee, wrists
On June 26, 2010, plaintiff Corina Rowe, 47, a pharmacist technician, was driving on westbound River Road, in Guerneville, accompanied by her son, plaintiff Colton Rowe, 7, restrained in a booster seat in the rear of the vehicle. At approximately 1:25 p.m., when they were just west of Hart Lane, their vehicle broadsided a vehicle operated by Charles Burgans Jr., 86, who was attempting a left turn from the Fulton Market onto eastbound River Road. Ms. Rowe claimed to her neck, back, chest, both elbows, both wrists, right hip, right knee, and left ankle. Her son, Colton, claimed an injury to his back. Burgans was hospitalized for approximately one month as a result of he sustained in the accident. He subsequently passed away. Corina and Colton Rowe sued the estate of Burgans and the owner of Burgans’ vehicle (who was Burgans’ long-time significant other and a passenger in his vehicle at the time of the accident), Gloria Christensen. The Rowes alleged that Burgans was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that Christensen was statutorily liable for Burgans’ actions. Plaintiffs’ counsel contended that Burgans pulled out from the Fulton Market and drove across oncoming traffic in order to make a left turn onto eastbound River Road. Thus, counsel contended that Burgans negligently drove into the path of the Rowes’ oncoming vehicle. It was undisputed that the accident involved a high-energy, rapid-deceleration motor vehicle collision. The defendants admitted liability, and the matter proceeded to assess damages., Both Ms. Rowe and Colton were taken by ambulance to an emergency room. Ms. Rowe claimed she suffered a left foot tendon/ligament injury that required surgical intervention. She also claimed she suffered cervical, thoracic, and lumbar , resulting in ongoing pain, discomfort, and radiating pain down to her legs. In addition, Ms. Rowe sustained contusions to her chest wall, both elbows and both wrists, and she complained of right hip and knee pain that arose during in the months and years following the accident. She claimed her right hip and knee complaints were possibly related to postural changes from her foot injury. Ms. Rowe claimed that her recovery from the surgery progressed well, but that she will require additional medical treatment, based largely on recommendations from her treating chiropractor, for her ongoing neck and back pain. Thus, Ms. Rowe sought recovery of $58,085.07 in stipulated past medical costs, $59,200 in future medical costs for a lifetime of chiropractic care, and $6,883.20 in stipulated past lost earnings. She also sought recovery of $250,000 to $350,000 in damages for her past pain and suffering and $200,000 to $300,000 in damages for her future pain and suffering. Colton claimed ongoing back pain stemming from the accident. He was ultimately diagnosed with soft-tissue strains and sprains for which he sought ongoing chiropractic treatment. Colton claimed he suffers ongoing panic attacks when he is in a car with his mother and emotional distress as a result of remembering the accident. Thus, Colton sought recovery of $22,114.18 in stipulated past medical costs. He also sought recovery of $50,000 to $100,000 in damages for his past pain and suffering and $50,000 to $100,000 in damages for his future pain and suffering. The defense’s expert orthopedic surgeon performed an independent medical exam of Ms. Rowe on Sept. 12, 2012, and found that Ms. Rowe did, in fact, have a residual abnormality of her left ankle. He testified that he observed a palpable and audible popping in the anterior aspect of the ankle immediately overlying the anterolateral aspect of the joint. However, the expert testified that he was uncertain if the problem existed within the soft-tissue structures of the capsule of the ankle or in the extensor retinaculum. In light of the defense’s expert’s opinions, defense counsel stipulated to all past medical costs as well as past loss of income. However, the defense’s orthopedic expert opined that Ms. Rowe fully recovered from her surgery and did not require any future chiropractic treatment. Defense counsel disputed Colton’s claim that he would need future chiropractic care. Counsel argued that Colton’s chiropractic treatment was unrelated to the accident, since records indicated that he fell off the monkey bars at school sometime after the accident.
Superior Court of Sonoma County, Sonoma, CA

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