Case details

Rear vehicle caused three-car collision, plaintiff claimed





Result type

Not present

back, cervical, fusion, herniated disc, lumbar, neck, neurological, radicular pain, radiculitis
At approximately 3 p.m. on Oct. 23, 2008, plaintiff Bryn Fortmuller, 47, an unemployed contractor, was driving his truck east on Interstate 80 when he was involved in a three-car rear-end collision just past the Air Base Parkway in Solano County. Fortmuller was impacted by a vehicle operated by Frank Hoesing, while Hoesing was impacted by a vehicle operated by James Madsen. However, the sequence of the accident was disputed. Fortmuller ultimately claimed to his neck, back, shoulders and right hip as a result of the accident. Fortmuller sued Hoesing and Madsen. He alleged the defendants were negligent in the operation of their respective vehicles. The matter first went to arbitration, where Fortmuller was awarded $302,414. However, the defendants rejected the award, and the case proceeded to a jury trial. Fortmuller claimed that Madsen caused the three-car accident by failing to keep a proper lookout and striking Hoesing’s vehicle, causing it to subsequently strike his truck. Hoesing contended, through his accident reconstruction expert, that he was stopped at the time of impact and that Madsen caused both the impact to the rear of his vehicle and the subsequent impact to the rear of the plaintiff’s vehicle. Madsen did not dispute rear-ending Hoesing’s vehicle, and left it up to the jury to decide liability., On the day after the accident, Fortmuller presented to Kaiser Permanente for treatment of his complaints of neck, back, shoulder and right hip pain. He claimed his spinal pain continued to intensify, and that he developed numbness and tingling in his right, dominant arm and hand, as well as radicular symptoms in his right leg. Within two months of the accident, Fortmuller underwent MRIs of his spine, which revealed cervical and lumbar herniations at C5-6 and L4-5. At first, he treated with a chiropractor from November 2008 until December 2008. He later underwent fusion surgeries at L4-5 and C5-6, on Feb. 12, 2009, and Aug. 13, 2009, respectively, as well as treated with physical therapy that year. The plaintiff’s orthopedic and chiropractic experts both claimed that the fusion surgeries were necessary to treat Fortmuller’s herniated discs. Fortmuller claimed that he was fully healed after the surgeries, and no longer experienced pain and discomfort. Thus, he sought recovery of $181,910 in damages for his past medical costs (lien of $85,610.69), and $300,000 in damages for his past pain and suffering. Defense counsel contended that Fortmuller had a prior history of complaints and/or problems similar to those he attributed to the accident, which he did not fully and completely disclose during discovery. The defense’s medical experts further testified that there was no objective evidence of acute traumatic attributable to the subject accident. The defense’s biomechanical expert testified that the forces of impact in the accident were insufficient to cause a disc injury and that, at most, the plaintiff sustained a sprain/strain.
Superior Court of Sacramento County, Sacramento, CA

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