CAMPOS v. SEBIAL
Defendant disputed liability, causation and the nature and extent of Plaintiff’s injuries. The Jury found in favor of Plaintiff. Plaintiff asked the jury for an award in the amount of $60,914.13. The jury awarded the Plaintiff $60,914.13. The Defendant insurance carrier paid $77,056.33 ($60,914.13 plus $8,457.43 costs, and $7,684.77 in 998 interests). The policy limit was $30,000.
Polls: 11-1 on liability and on damages: past medicals 12-0, future medicals 10-2
MEDIATION AND SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE NOTES:
While the case was in limited jurisdiction the Plaintiff served a C.C.P. 998 in the amount of $15,436.00. The Defendant offered $6,500.00. Later, the case was reclassified to unlimited jurisdiction and the Plaintiff served a demand for the Defendant’s policy limits. Defendant’s insurance policy limits with Farmers was for 30,000. Defendant offered $7,500.
On June 9, 2002, at the intersection of Mulberry Drive and Colima Road in the city of Whittier, the Plaintiff, a thirty four (34) year old unlicensed and uninsured (Prop. 213) driver was traveling eastbound on Mulberry Drive at Colima Road with her five (5) minor children. The Defendant was traveling northbound on Colima Road at Mulberry Drive with his two (2) minor passengers. The collision occurred as both Plaintiff and Defendant entered the intersection. The front-end of Defendant’s 2001 Toyota Corolla collided into the passenger side of the Plaintiff’s 1995 Ford Aerostar van causing the Plaintiff’s vehicle to roll on to its side. Following the accident, the Plaintiff was transported by ambulance to Whittier Hospital Medical Center where she was treated for abrasions to the deltoid area and minor lacerations to elbow due to broken glass. Plaintiff was released the same day. Two days later, the Plaintiff began treatment with a chiropractor, (the first in a series three chiropractors that she would eventually treated with prior the trial of this matter), for pain in her lower back, neck, left leg and soreness in her arms. The Plaintiff was discharged with minimal complaints and full range of motion of the lumber spine on September 20, 2002. In March of 2003, the Plaintiff undergoes a three weeks course of chiropractic treatment with a second chiropractor, as a result of lumber spine and neck pain. On July 15, 2004, over two years after the accident, the Plaintiff sought care from an orthopedist doctor (one of two that she would treat with prior to the trial) for continuous lower back pain which radiated to her right leg and right hip. Four days later, on July 19, 2004, the Plaintiff underwent a series of three MRI’s of the Left Sacroiliac Joint, the Right Sacroiliac Joint and the Lumbar Spine. The MRI results were unremarkable with the exception of the lumbar MRI which revealed a 3-4 mm posterior disc bulge at L5-S1, effacing the ventral surface of the thecal sac, without canal stenosis or neural foraminal narrowing. Minimal facet joint hypertrophy was also seen. The central canal was adequately patent. There was no evidence of signal abnormality within the exiting or traversing nerve roots. In February of 2005, almost three years after the accident, Plaintiff undergoes chiropractic treatment for one week with a third chiropractor. Plaintiff also sought care with a second orthopedic doctor who recommended a series of three epidural injections. Plaintiff received the injections with minimal relief, and thus surgery was recommended.
Litigation fact: Case was originally filed in limited jurisdiction, but had to be reclassified to unlimited jurisdiction when epidural injections and surgery were recommended. Because the Plaintiff was an uninsured driver, her recovery under the law was limited to Plaintiff’s reasonable past and future medical expenses (economic damages), i.e., she could not recover for pain and suffering (non-economic damages). At the time of trial the Plaintiff’s past medical expenses totaled $36, 414.13, with the cost of future surgery in the amount of $24,500.00. Due to California Proposition 213, the total amount Plaintiff was permitted to recover under the law was $60,914.13 ($36,414.13 + $24, 500.00). The jury awarded Plaintiff the full amount she claimed for her injuries, $60,914.13. The Defendant insurance carrier paid $77,056.33 ($60,914.13 plus $8,457.43 costs, and $7,684.77 in 998 interests). The policy limit was $30,000.
Plaintiff’s Contentions: The Plaintiff contended that the Defendant caused the accident by going through a red light striking Plaintiff’s vehicle causing injuries to her spine. Plaintiff conceded that there was no nerve root impingement or compression, but contended that the excruciating pain was as a result of a bulged disc which conservative therapy had not resolved thus making Plaintiff a candidate for elective laminectomy and diskectomy.
Defendant’s Contentions: The Defendant contended that the Plaintiff caused the accident by going through a red light, and that the Plaintiff’s sustained soft tissue injuries to her neck and low back. The Defendant contended that the appropriate treatment would have been anti-inflammatory medications and five to six weeks of physical therapy or chiropractic treatment. The Defendant contended that the Plaintiff neither required surgery nor any further orthopedic care.
Injuries: Pain in the neck, right hip, left arm and constant low back pain with pain referred to right lower extremity, without numbness, and 3-4 mm posterior disc bulge at L5-S1.
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