Double Lumbar Surgery Defense Verdit
On June 23, 2022, Scott Macdonald and Douglas Carasso received a defense verdict in the Historic Courthouse in Riverside, California.
On March 23, 2018 plaintiff, a 47 year old man was driving his 2004 Ford F150 pickup. He was stopped for a metered signal light at the end of an onramp to the 15 freeway Norco. Defendant, a 74 year old, was driving her 2002 Honda Accord also attempting to enter the freeway. She did not see brake lights plaintiff’s vehicle. Once she realized that plaintiff was stopped, she slammed on her brakes and swerved to the right. She was unable to avoid impact.
The impact was minor. The defense hired an accident reconstruction/biomechanical expert who opined that the delta-V was between 7 and 9 m.p.h. and that such impact was unlikely to cause injury. Plaintiff also retained a biomechanical expert. Plaintiff argued that he was an “eggshell” plaintiff. Plaintiff’s expert opined that an eggshell plaintiff might expect injuries from the minor impact.
Plaintiff sought no emergency care but told investigating officers that he had pain down both legs. He did not seek any treatment for 18 days. He then started chiropractic treatment and would eventually treat 87 times. He tried a single epidural injection which provided no relief. He then saw a spine surgeon who recommended a fusion. Six months later he saw a second spine surgeon who recommended a micro-decompression. That surgery was performed in August, 2019. Plaintiff had only temporary relief following his first surgery. His surgeon then performed a spinal fusion surgery in March, 2021.
Medical specials were $450,000. Both sides had billing experts. The defense expert reduced bills to $145,000. The plaintiff expert reduced bills to $299,000. Plaintiff’s orthopedic surgeon testified. He testified to his treatment and that the plaintiff would develop Adjacent Segment Disease at a rate of 3% per year and would eventually need surgery. The defense expert said that conservative care had not been attempted and the surgery should not have been done unless conservative care had failed. The defense expert said that performing surgeries was not below the standard of care. The defense expert was of the opinion that plaintiff would not need a future surgery. Plaintiff hired a Life Care Planner who opined that the plaintiff would need roughly $750,000 in future case. The defense Life Care Planner opined that $17,000 in future care was reasonable given the fusion. Plaintiff asked the jury to award $6,233,000.
The jury deliberated for approximately two and a half hours. The jury returned a finding of no causation and awarded the plaintiff nothing. The defendant had a $100,000 policy. Plaintiff claimed that the policy was “open”.