Case details

Plaintiffs claimed multiple injuries after head-on collision





Result type

Not present

abdomen, ankle, anxiety, back, brain, brain injury, bruise, bulging disc, chest, coma, face, facial laceration, fracture, leg, legs, lumbar, mental, neck, nose, psychological, rib, sprain, strain
On Dec. 6, 2011, plaintiff Christa Rizzo, 33, an assistant at State Compensation Insurance Fund, was driving her sport utility vehicle on eastbound Rancho Penasquitos Boulevard in San Diego, accompanied by her aunt, plaintiff Wyloma Bradshaw, 61, a retiree, seated in the rear of the vehicle and her daughter, plaintiff Ava Stori Rizzo, 2, seated in a car seat in the rear of the vehicle. At approximately 11:55 a.m., the SUV collided head-on with a pickup truck operated by Barton Hughes, who had veered into the eastbound lanes of Rancho Penasquitos Boulevard from the westbound lanes. Rizzo, her daughter and Bradshaw claimed multiple bodily from the accident. Rizzo also claimed post-traumatic stress disorder from the incident. Mrs. Rizzo, Bradshaw and Ava, by and through her guardian ad litem, Brian Rizzo, sued Hughes and Hughes’ employer, Tool Time Construction Inc. Mrs. Rizzo, Bradshaw and Ava alleged that Hughes was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that Tool Time was vicariously liable for Hughes’ actions through the course and scope of his work for the company. Plaintiffs’ counsel contended that Hughes was negligent for veering into oncoming traffic, causing the head-on collision on eastbound Rancho Penasquitos Boulevard. Counsel also contended that Hughes had already started work and was on his way to another job site at the time of the accident, and that as such, Hughes was of benefit to Tool Time and in the course and scope of his employment. Tool Time claimed that Hughes was driving his own personal pickup truck at the time of the accident and that Hughes was not in the course and scope of his employment. It further claimed Hughes was simply driving to work when the accident occurred and, hence, the “going and coming” rule applied. Hughes claimed he had no recollection of the accident, as he had suffered a sudden and unexpected medical episode — a retroperitoneal hematoma — prior to the collision, which rendered him semiconscious. Hughes’ trauma care physician verified that Hughes suffered the episode before the accident, which caused Hughes to turn off an interstate, going wide of the median on Rancho Penasquitos Boulevard, and into the path of oncoming traffic for a quarter of a mile before the collision. In response, plaintiffs’ counsel argued that Hughes suffered the retroperitoneal hematoma as a result of the subject collision and that Hughes was fully conscious in the moments prior to impact., Mrs. Rizzo, Bradshaw and Ava were taken from the scene of the accident to three separate hospitals. Mrs. Rizzo sustained a left ankle sprain, as well as lacerations to her forehead and lower left leg. She also sustained bruises/abrasions to her chest, abdomen and both legs. Mrs. Rizzo complained of joint pain to her neck and back, and was ultimately diagnosed with a bulging lumbar disc pressing on the nerve root. She subsequently treated her lower back condition with epidural injections and physical therapy, which has been ongoing since the accident. In addition to her physical , Mrs. Rizzo claimed post-traumatic stress disorder from the accident, which she currently treats with therapy. She claimed her symptoms included anxiousness, hyper-attentiveness and memory loss, but alleged that her symptoms were not related to a traumatic brain injury. Mrs. Rizzo claimed that as a result of her condition, she is fearful of the accident scene and has difficulty raising her daughter due to her lower back injury. She further claimed that she might eventually require lower back surgery, if her condition does not improve. Thus, Mrs. Rizzo sought recovery of $45,000 in past medical costs and $3,000 in past lost earnings for the several weeks of missed work due to her treatment. She also sought recovery for her possible future surgery and recovery of damages for her past and future pain and suffering. Bradshaw sustained eight fractured ribs and three compression fractures of her lower back, as well as lacerations to her hips and numerous body contusions. She also suffered internal that resulted in an emergency resection of 14-inches of her intestines. As a result, Bradshaw was placed in a medically-induced coma for three weeks and later complained of potassium burn from the IV. She then received a few months of physical therapy. Bradshaw made a mostly miraculous recovery from all of her , despite a 35-pound drop in weight and some residual fatigue. Thus, she sought roughly $235,000 in past medical costs and sought recovery of damages for her pain and suffering. Ava sustained a laceration to the frenulum underneath her upper lip, a bloody nose, abrasions to her face, and abdominal bruising. She was subsequently treated at a children’s hospital and then was taken for follow-up care with her pediatrician. Ava made a good recovery from her . Thus, Mr. Rizzo sought recovery of $3,600 for Ava’s past medical costs. He also sought recovery of damages for Ava’s pain and suffering. Defense counsel argued that Mrs. Rizzo’s lower back injury was not caused by the accident, but, rather, by Mrs. Rizzo lifting her daughter in her already injured state. Counsel also argued that Mrs. Rizzo’s PTSD could be resolved within six months with biofeedback therapy. In addition, defense counsel argued that Bradshaw made an excellent recovery from all of her .
Superior Court of San Diego County, San Diego, CA

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