Case details

Plaintiffs: Driver of vehicle with problems caused crash




Mediated Settlement

Result type

Not present

iface, injuries from CRPS, neck, right foot, right hand
At around 1 p.m. on Sept. 1, 2010, plaintiff Heywon Kim was driving a 2007 Acura MDX in the far left, “number one,” lane on southbound Hawthorne Boulevard, in Torrance, with her mother, plaintiff Kun Ja Kim, a retired 69 year old, seated in the front passenger seat and her daughter, plaintiff Heather Han, a 3-year-old child, seated in the backseat. As they entered the intersection with 182nd Street on a green light, a 2010 Lincoln Navigator rental vehicle operated by Eugene Vejsicky attempted to make a left turn from eastbound 182nd Street onto northbound Hawthorne Boulevard. Prior to entering the intersection, Vejsicky was in the course and scope of his employment with Hertz Vehicles, LLC, transporting the rental vehicle from Hertz’s Torrance facility to its rental facility at Los Angeles International Airport. When he first started the Navigator, he noticed that the vehicle had a high idle and that as he drove the vehicle from the Hertz facility in Torrance, the vehicle “jerked” forward whenever he tried to stop. The Lincoln Navigator jerked forward three times during the two blocks between the Hertz facility and the intersection of 182nd Street and Hawthorne Boulevard. Then, as Vejsicky attempted to go into the left turn lane on eastbound 182nd Street, he noticed that the light for eastbound traffic was red and applied the brake to stop the vehicle. However, as Vejsicky approached the intersection, he experienced a mechanical failure, causing the rental vehicle to accelerate unexpectedly. As a result, Vejsicky ran the red light and broadsided Heywon Kim’s vehicle. The force of the impact spun the Heywon Kim’s vehicle around and caused it to continue in a southeasterly direction. Heywon Kim’s vehicle then struck a third vehicle that was stopped on northbound Hawthorne Boulevard. Heywon Kim sustained to her neck, Kun Ja Kim sustained to her right foot and right hand, and Heather sustained to her face and neck. Heywon Kim, Kun Ja Kim, and Heather Han sued Vejsicky and Hertz Vehicles LLC. The plaintiffs alleged that Vejsicky was negligent in the operation of the rental vehicle and that Hertz was vicariously liable for Vejsicky’s actions while he was in the course and scope of his employment. Plaintiffs’ counsel noted that the investigating officer concluded that Vejsicky was at fault for running a red light. Counsel also contended that Vejsicky should not have continued driving the rental vehicle once he knew there were mechanical problems with it. The defendants conceded liability., Heywon Kim sustained soft tissue to her neck, resulting in $4,392.52 in past medical costs. Heather was jolted around and shaken about during the accident, causing her to sustain a seat belt laceration to her neck and chest, and burns to her face. Her medical costs were ultimately reduced to $297.52. The suffered by both Heywon Kim and Heather ultimately resolved. Kun Ja Kim sustained a fracture of the distal phalanx of her right foot, resulting in pain and swelling. She also suffered a sharp pain in her right hand and wrist, resulting in throbbing pain in her right thumb. In addition, she suffered discoloration, numbness, and a tingling sensation in her right hand and right leg. She was subsequently taken by ambulance to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, in Torrance, where she was hospitalized, but released the following day. Kun Ja Kim then followed up with her treating orthopedic surgeon, who believed that the alleged pain was due to complex regional pain syndrome, also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy or causalgia, a chronic pain condition. Kun Ja Kim claimed that prescribed pain medications could not be taken because it irritated her stomach. As a result, she was prescribed conservative treatment and physical therapy, and underwent four weeks of physical therapy. She also received an injection in her neck, but it allegedly wore off. Kun Ja Kim then underwent acupuncture treatments, which began in December 2010 and ended in May 2011. She also saw a pain management specialist, who ordered further physical therapy from Oct. 26, 2012 through Nov. 9, 2012. However, when treatment was unsuccessful, the treating pain management expert ordered a right stellate ganglion block procedure. Kun Ja Kim has a Medicare lien of $24,080.87. However, she claimed that she still suffers pain in her right hand, right arm, lower back, and neck. She also claimed that she suffers pain to the great toe on her right foot and that the pain is made worse with walking. In addition, she claimed that her right leg has weakened and that she loses strength in it, causing her to collapse at times when she walks. Defense counsel asserted that Kun Ja Kim did not suffer from CRPS. Counsel also asserted that Kun Ja Kim’s ongoing symptoms were due to pre-existing cervical and lumbar degenerative disease, arthritis, and spinal stenosis. Counsel contended that Kun Ja Kim’s pre-existing spinal condition was based upon a cervical MRI scan performed on Nov. 2, 2010, which revealed multilevel disc disease, spondylosis, spinal stenosis, and facet arthropathy. The defense’s expert orthopedic surgeon also opined that he found no evidence of CRPS.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA

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