Date of Verdict:

February 26.

Court and Case No.:

C.P. Philadelphia No. 111000055.

Judge:

William J. Manfredi.

Type of Action:

Personal injury.

Injuries:

Chondromalacia of the knee.

Plaintiffs Counsel:

Rochelle B. Fieldcamp, The Gaber Law Offices, Philadelphia.

Defense Counsel:

Maria R. Puzio, SEPTA, Philadelphia; Kristine M. Meindl, Goldberg, Miller & Rubin, Philadelphia.

Plaintiffs Experts:

Antoinette Kruc, osteopathy, Philadelphia.

Defnese Experts:

Andrew Shaer, radiology, Rockledge, Pa.

Comment:

On December 3, 2009, plaintiff Tamiko Allen, 29, was a passenger in a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority bus that was traveling westbound on Spruce Street, near the intersection with 45th Street in West Philadelphia.

Allen alleged that Gregory Ruffin was traveling behind the bus when he attempted to pass it by entering the eastbound lane of travel; he then allegedly re-entered the westbound lane directly in front of the transit vehicle, which caused the bus driver to slam on the brakes and bring the bus to a complete stop. In doing so, the bus reportedly made contact with the rear of Ruffin’s vehicle. Allen claimed that she suffered chondromalacia to her left knee and soft-tissue injuries to her lower back as a result of the trauma created when the bus stopped short and then impacted with Ruffin’s vehicle.

Allen sued both Ruffin and SEPTA.

Following court-mandated arbitration, the panel found in favor of Allen as to her claim against Ruffin in the amount of $5,000, but in favor of SEPTA. Ruffin appealed, and the case proceeded to trial.

Counsel for Allen faulted Ruffin for making an improper lane change and the SEPTA bus driver for coming to an abrupt stop.

At the end of Allen’s case-in-chief, counsel for SEPTA moved for a directed verdict, which was granted.

After SEPTA was dismissed, Ruffin’s counsel agreed to remove the issue of negligence from the verdict slip.

About a week after the accident in question, Allen, with complaints of left-knee and lower-back pain, presented to an osteopathic physician, who prescribed her physical therapy, which she underwent through April 2010.

During that time, Allen consulted with an orthopedist, who, via an MRI, diagnosed her with chondromalacia of the knee. Arthroscopic surgery was recommended, but Allen declined.

For the next two years, Allen treated on her own via home exercises until the continued pain reportedly became too much to bear and she returned to an orthopedist in April 2012. The chondromalacia condition was confirmed via another MRI, and arthroscopy was again recommended.

In her report (the case was tried pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1311.1), Allen’s treating doctor related her injuries and resulting treatment to the December 2009 accident.

Allen said she continues to suffer knee pain, especially with changing weather conditions, and still performs home exercises. Her suit sought to recover unspecified amounts of noneconomic damages, for past and future pain and suffering.

The defense’s radiology expert opined that there was no association between the accident and Allen’s chondromalacia.

The jury found in favor of Allen and against Ruffin, awarding damages totaling $12,000.

This report is based on information that was provided by counsel for all parties involved in the litigation.

— This report first appeared in VerdictSearch Pennsylvania, a publication of ALM •