Case details

Rear-ender aggravated prior lumbar injury, plaintiff claimed





Result type

Not present

head, lower back, lower extremities, neck
On March 13, 2012, at approximately 6 p.m., plaintiff Melissa Correa, 27, a full-time student, was a passenger in her boyfriend’s vehicle, which was traveling on eastbound Warner Avenue when it stopped for a red light at the intersection with Goldenwest Street in Huntington Beach. Their vehicle was then rear-ended by a security vehicle (with an extended front bumper) operated by Louis Robles. The impact pushed Correa’s vehicle into the intersection, and Correa claimed to her lower back, lower extremities, head, and neck. Correa sued Robles and Recon Industries, Robles’ employer and owner of the security vehicle. Correa alleged that Robles was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that Recon Industries was vicariously liable for Robles’ actions. Philadelphia Insurance Co. intervened as a defendant due to Recon Industries’ loss of corporate standing. Correa contended that Robles was following too closely as the vehicles approached the subject intersection and that Robles did not allow enough time and distance to avoid the collision. Thus, she claimed Robles’ tailgating and inattentiveness caused the rear-ender. Robles claimed that Correa’s boyfriend made a sudden and unexpected stop at the subject intersection when the light was yellow. He also claimed that Correa’s boyfriend did so because he saw Robles’ security vehicle behind him and mistook it for a police vehicle., Correa was taken by ambulance to an emergency room with complaints of lower back pain. She previously had a significant work injury to her lower back in 2003, which ultimately required a lumbar fusion at L4-5 in April 2007. Correa claimed the subject rear-ender aggravated the injury, causing radicular pain to her legs. She also claimed the crash caused new to her head and neck. Correa subsequently underwent conservative treatment, which included physical therapy and pain management, for her lower back. However, she claimed the treatment did not provide enough relief, leading her to undergo a surgical removal of the hardware from her prior fusion, combined with bone grafting and exploratory surgery, in January 2014. She then followed up with ongoing physical therapy. Correa claimed her lower back condition forced her to quit school, as all her focus over the two-year span has been on her recovery. Thus, she sought recovery of $109,000 in past medical costs and an unspecified amount of future medical costs for her ongoing conservative treatment. She further sought recovery of damages for her past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel disputed the nature and extent of Correa’s alleged and damages. Counsel argued that Correa’s current condition, and all of her complaints, stemmed almost entirely from her pre-existing lower back condition/fusion. Defense counsel sought and obtained extensive medical records that showed consistent treatment and documentation of pain levels from the date of the 2003 work injury up to and including just 10 days prior to the subject accident. Defense counsel argued that Correa would have required the hardware removal regardless of the subject accident and that the crash only caused Correa to have the surgery earlier.
Superior Court of Orange County, Santa Ana, CA

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