Date of Verdict: July 9.
Court and Case No.: C.P. Philadelphia No. 130502892.
Judge: Albert Snite.
Type of Action: Motor vehicle.
Injuries: Soft tissue, back injuries.
Plaintiffs Counsel: Marc I. Simon and Andrew Baron, Simon & Simon, Philadelphia.
Defense Counsel: Brooks R. Foland, Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, Camp Hill, Pa.
Plaintiffs Expert: Dr. John J. Bowden, family medicine, Philadelphia.
Comment: According to the pretrial memorandum from plaintiff Charles Patterson, on Sept. 4, 2010, Patterson was driving a vehicle, with his wife, Annette Patterson, as a passenger, near Gilbert and Rugby streets in Philadelphia. His vehicle was struck from the rear by a vehicle driven by tortfeasor Vinnie Taylor. Charles Patterson, who was 60 at the time of the accident, claimed the collision caused injuries of the back and right leg.
Taylor had a $50,000 insurance policy, and Patterson had $25,000 of underinsured motorist coverage from Travelers Home and Marine Insurance Co. After Taylor tendered his policy to Patterson, Patterson sought additional coverage through his UIM benefits.
According to the plaintiff’s memo, two days after the accident Patterson received emergency care at an emergency room of Chestnut Hill Hospital.
Patterson complained of pains in his right leg, knee and thigh, and pain in the neck and upper back. He presented to Dr. John J. Bowden, and underwent physical therapy, electronic stimulation, massage, traction, exercise and spinal manipulation treatments. The treatments lasted about six months.
An MRI of Patterson’s knee revealed a subchondral cyst and a tear of the posterior horn of the medial meniscus. An MRI of the back also showed bulging discs at L2-3, L3-4 and L4-5.
Bowden opined that Patterson’s injuries were permanent and related to the rear-end collision. Patterson may require additional treatment, such as physical therapy, injections and surgery, Bowden opined, according to Patterson’s memo.
A statement from Patterson’s attorney, Marc I. Simon, said Patterson had pain when engaging in recreational activities, such as golf, swimming and bowling. The statement also said that Annette Patterson testified at trial that Charles Patterson was unable to go dancing with her, and had difficulty performing regular household activities like he had prior to the accident.
A pretrial memo from the insurance carrier said the collision was low-speed, and that treatment records indicated that Patterson sustained only sprains and strains as a result of the accident. The defendant contended that the accident did not cause any long-term injuries, and that Patterson’s treatment was minimal. The carrier also said Patterson didn’t complain of back pain until months after the accident, and noted that Patterson had not treated for three years before trial.
The carrier’s memo noted that Patterson was involved in a prior motor vehicle accident, where he sustained a broken right femur and a broken left tibia. The injuries resulted in a leg-length discrepancy, the memo said. The carrier also noted that records showed Patterson wore a knee brace prior to the accident, and argued that any injuries were due to long-term degeneration. The memo additionally said the plaintiff had not provided some medical records predating the accident.
Patterson demanded $25,000, which included the $50,000 credit for the prior settlement, the defendant’s memo said. According to Simon’s statement, the defendant revoked a $5,000 settlement offer prior to trial.
According to Simon’s statement, the jury heard that Patterson’s case was filed against his own insurance carrier in an effort to recover benefits for which he had paid. The plaintiff explained to the jury that he paid monthly premiums to the company and had purchased the additional coverage. The verdict sheet also contained the carrier’s name in the caption.
After two days of trial, and less than two hours of deliberation, the jury awarded Patterson $86,000. The verdict was molded to the $25,000 UIM policy limit.
“Here we have another ruling by the trial court which now allows the jury to know who true players in the litigation are,” Simon said in the statement. “There will have to be some final clarification from the appellate courts on these [UIM] cases, as they are falling on both sides of the fence.”
Simon also said that he planned to pursue a bad-faith claim.
Brooks R. Foland of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin did not return a call for comment.
— Max Mitchell, of the Law Weekly •