Jury Awards Priest Reasonable Damages for Failed Lumbar Disc Surgery
July 2017, Scott Macdonald successfully defended claims brought by a Priest who was involved in a freeway collision and claimed life-long back complaints. Defendant contended that she was driving on the freeway and was rear-ended by plaintiff’s vehicle. An independent witness, the police officer and plaintiff claimed that defendant made an unsafe lane change in the path of plaintiff and that plaintiff could not avoid striking defendant’s vehicle. The jury found defendant liable.
Plaintiff waited six weeks to begin treatment. We discovered that during that time frame he reported to Kaiser that he had been “sparring” and had suffered back complaints. Plaintiff would ultimately take attorney-referral to a well-known D.O. in Los Angeles. That doctor performed a lumbar disc procedure, which reportedly failed. Plaintiff then claimed that he would have life-long pain and would need a lumbar fusion surgery.
Defendant presented an orthopedic surgeon and radiologist and maintained that plaintiff suffered soft-tissue injury only. The lumbar surgery was not necessary and any defect in the spine was age-related. Defendant was successful in keeping out over $100,000 of medical bills for procedures not timely disclosed in discovery.
The case was tried to jury in Van Nuys. The jury was asked to award millions of dollars. The jury awarded plaintiff his medical specials of $78,351. The jury refused to award the claimed cost of the future fusion surgery but awarded $10,000 in future medical expenses. Plaintiff received $30,000 in past pain and suffering and $15,000 in future pain and suffering. The total verdict was $133,351.
This matter was transferred to our office for trial. Prior to coming to our office plaintiff had demanded the policy limits of $100,000. The policy limits were tendered, but plaintiff claimed that the tender was not timely and that defendant’s policy was “open.”