Case details

Rear-ender exacerbated prior spinal condition: plaintiff





Result type

Not present

back, bulging disc, cervical, degenerative disc condition, exacerbation of, lumbar, neck, strain
At approximately 3 p.m. on Sept. 17, 2010, plaintiff Sheila McCabe, 49, a bingo ad salesperson, was exiting Interstate 15 in Temecula when she stopped for traffic on the off-ramp. While stopped, she was rear-ended by a vehicle operated by William Isom and sustained to her neck and back. McCabe sued Isom and Serena Anzaldua, the driver of a third-party vehicle that allegedly rear-ended Isom. McCabe alleged that the defendants were negligent in the operation of their respective vehicles. McCabe contended that Isom was inattentive and driving at a speed that was unsafe for the traffic conditions at that time. She also noted that the California Highway Patrol officer that responded to the accident determined that Isom was responsible for the crash. Anzaldua tendered her $50,000 insurance policy limit, and received a good faith determination by the court. Isom claimed he was rear-ended by Anzaldua’s vehicle prior to rear-ending McCabe. Prior to trial, plaintiff’s counsel offered Isom a deal that if he stipulated to liability, McCabe would waive her demand for punitive damages. Isom, whose policy did not cover punitive damages, accepted the offer and the matter proceeded to a trial to assess damages., McCabe was taken by ambulance to an emergency room. She claimed she sustained strains to her neck and lower back, superimposed over her degenerative disc disease, resulting in cervical and lumbar bulges at the C4-5 and L5-S1 levels. McCabe treated her with a pain management doctor and neurosurgeon. She received injections to her neck and lower back, and eventually underwent lumbar surgery in the summer of 2011. McCabe claimed she still suffers from residual neck pain, and will likely undergo surgery to her cervical spine. Thus, she claimed $124,787 in past medical costs, and asked the jury for $1,185,661 in damages for her future medical costs, $62,831 in damages for her past lost earnings, and a range of $600,000 to $808,666 in damages for her future lost earnings. McCabe did not have auto insurance at the time of the accident and, as such, could not claim non-economic damages. Defense counsel contended that McCabe sustained strains to her lumbar and cervical spine, but that the should have resolved within 12 weeks. The defense’s expert neurosurgeon opined that the plaintiff’s current pain symptoms resulted from degenerative conditions in her spine. Thus, defense counsel asked the jury to award McCabe only $33,598 in past economic damages.
Superior Court of Riverside County, Indio, CA

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