Case details

Plaintiff’s trigeminal neuralgia not caused by crash: defense





Result type

Not present

chronic pain, face, neck, pre-existing emotional-distress issues, trigeminal neuralgia
On Dec. 27, 2013, plaintiff Erin Blakemore, 33, a freelance magazine writer from Colorado who was visiting San Diego, was driving on the on-ramp to the northbound Jacob Dekema Freeway, also known as Interstate 805, in San Diego, when she came to a stop because she believed the ramp meter lights were red. Subsequently, a vehicle operated by Akizumi Ohgi proceeded onto the on-ramp and rear-ended Blakemore’s vehicle. Blakemore claimed to her face and neck. Blakemore sued Ohgi, alleging that Ohgi was negligent in the operation of his vehicle. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that Ohgi was not traveling at a safe speed and should have been able to avoid colliding with Blakemore’s vehicle. Defense counsel contended that the ramp meter lights are used on the freeway during peak hours to ease highway congestion and that the incident happened past peak hours. Counsel contended that as a result, Ohgi did not expect Blakemore to stop on the ramp. The responding police officer verified that the metering lights were off at the time of the incident. Thus, defense counsel argued that the collision was Blakemore’s fault for stopping on the on-ramp., Blakemore claimed she sustained soft tissue to her neck and back. She subsequently had someone take her to an emergency room in San Diego, where she was treated and released. Blakemore then sought addition treatment in Colorado, shortly after she returned home from her visit to San Diego. However, about a month later, she claimed she started noticing symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia, a chronic pain disorder that affects the trigeminal nerve in the face. As a result, she underwent a CyberKnife procedure to address her pain. Blakemore claimed that she still suffers from trigeminal neuralgia and that as a result, she continues to take medication for her cognition. She also claimed that she suffers from emotional distress due to her impaired condition and having to deal with her physical issues and medications. The plaintiff’s expert neurosurgeon opined that Blakemore would continue to require medications to control the trigeminal neuralgia. He also posed surgical options. Thus, Blakemore sought recovery for her past and future medical costs, as well as recovery of damages for her past and future pain and suffering. The defense’s neurology expert opined that trigeminal neuralgia is not caused by trauma, such as the subject collision. Defense counsel argued that while Blakemore did have trigeminal neuralgia, the condition was not causally related to the crash. Specifically, counsel noted that Blakemore had a family history of the condition and that the neurological exams that Blakemore underwent immediately following the crash were all normal. The defense’s psychiatry expert opined that Blakemore had pre-existing emotional-distress issues, but that Blakemore’s limited emotional distress could be attributed to the accident.
Superior Court of San Diego County, San Diego, CA

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