Date of Verdict:

July 11.

Court and Case No.:

C.P. Philadelphia No. 120603677.


Esther R. Sylvester.

Type of Action:

Motor vehicle.


Herniated disc.

Plaintiffs Counsel:

Jeremy M. Weitz, Spear, Greenfield & Richman, Philadelphia.

Defense Counsel:

Susan J. Wiener, Law Offices of James L. Barlow, King of Prussia, Pa.

Plaintiffs Expert:

Dr. Joseph Guagliardo, orthopedic surgery, Doylestown, Pa.

Defense Expert:

Dr. Andrew Shaer, radiology, Rockledge, Pa.


On April 13, 2010, plaintiff Arthur Rieco, 68, was stopped in traffic on Interstate 95 on the Girard Point Bridge (near the Broad Street exit) in South Philadelphia, when the rear of his pickup truck was struck by the front of a sedan. Rieco claimed that he suffered herniated discs in his neck and radiculopathy.

Rieco sued the striking motorist, who had a policy limit of $50,000, and settled with him for $45,000 prior to trial. In a separate suit, Rieco sued his insurance carrier, AIG Indemnity Insurance Co., for an underinsured motorist claim.

Negligence was stipulated, and the case proceeded to trial on the issues of causation and damages.

The next day, Rieco, complaining of neck pain and radiating pain throughout his shoulders, arms and hands, presented to an emergency room where he was examined (an X-ray was negative) and released. Soon after, he followed up with an orthopedic surgeon who put him on a course of physical therapy, which he underwent for six to eight months. During that time, Rieco underwent MRIs and electromyographies, which reportedly showed three disc herniations in his cervical spine and radiculopathy. No further treatment was administered.

Rieco's treating orthopedic surgeon testified that Rieco's injuries were permanent in nature. The physician recommended additional treatment in the form of injections and possible surgery (i.e., a fusion).

Rieco testified that he continues to experience pain and limited range of motion in his neck and numbness and tingling in his hands. This affects his acts of daily living, particularly his hobby of woodworking (also his former profession), he claimed. He sought to recover an unspecified amount in noneconomic damages for past and future pain and suffering.

The defense's expert in radiology concluded that given his age, Rieco's herniations were degenerative and pre-existing in nature and unattributed to the accident. The defense pointed out that there was limited damage to the rear of Rieco's truck from the collision.

The jury awarded Rieco $62,500 in damages. Pursuant to the underinsured motorist credit of $50,000, the court molded the verdict to $12,500.

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiffs counsel. Defense counsel did not respond to the reporter's phone calls.

— This report first appeared in VerdictSearch, an ALM publication.