Mouzon and Smith v. Howie

$140,000 Verdict

Date of Verdict: Jan. 25.

Court and Case No.: C.P. Philadelphia No. 160202963.

Judge:  Kenneth J. Powell Jr.

Type of Action: Motor vehicle.

Injuries: Neck, hip and shoulder injuries

Plaintiffs Counsel:  Vincent F. Presto, Master Weinstein Moyer, Philadelphia.

Plaintiffs Expert: Matthew Marcus, chiropractic; Elkins Park.

Defense Counsel: Justin A. Schluth; Hubshman, Flood, Bullock & Dorn, Plymouth Meeting;  Samuel T. LeHew, Law Office Andrew McGee; Philadelphia.

Defense Expert: Michael Brooks, neuroradiology, Thornton.


In March 2014, plaintiff Rafeeq Smith, a construction site supervisor in his 30s, and plaintiff Keith Mouzon were passengers in a sport utility vehicle in a parking lot in Philadelphia. The SUV was driven by Lavalle Carter. As she drove past a parked sedan, the sedan reversed out of a parking space and struck the driver’s side rear-quarter panel of the SUV. Smith claimed injuries to his neck, left hip, and left shoulder. Mouzon also claimed injuries.

Smith and Mouzon sued both Carter and the driver of the sedan, Sharon Howie, alleging they were negligent. They also sued Keiera Anderson, Michelle Anderson Long, and Spencer Long, who were the owners of Howie’s car, and Blue Flame Group Inc., the owner of Carter’s vehicle. These defendants were dismissed, prior to trial.

During court-mandated arbitration, Smith was determined to receive $33,000 against Howie, and Mouzon was determined to receive $12,500 against Howie. Howie rejected the decision, and Mouzon and Howie settled for an undisclosed amount, prior to trial.

At trial, Smith’s counsel faulted Howie for not keeping a proper lookout and for not ensuring a clear, safe distance before reversing out of the space. Counsel also argued that Carter was driving too close to Howie’s parked car.

Carter denied that she was driving too closely to Howie’s vehicle and argued that it was Howie who caused the accident by improperly reversing and hitting his vehicle.

Howie blamed Carter for accident. Howie contended that before backing up she did not see any vehicle, so she believed the path was clear. However, as she did, Carter had stopped abruptly, which caused her to strike his vehicle.

In the days following the accident, Smith, complaining of pain to his neck, left shoulder, and left hip, presented to an emergency room, where he left without being examined, due to the long wait. In the coming days, he presented to a chiropractor, and treated for 30 visits, through October.

The majority of his care was through August. He had only one visit in September and one visit in October. Treatment included spinal manipulation and massage. Smith underwent a cervical MRI and was diagnosed with herniations to cervical intervertebral discs C3-4 and C6-7.

He was further diagnosed with strains and sprains to his neck, upper back, left shoulder, and left hip. Smith treated with pain medication and consulted with a physician on two occasions. No further treatment was rendered.

Smith’s chiropractor causally related his injuries and treatment to the accident. According to the chiropractor, Smith suffered permanent weakening of the intervertebral discs surrounding the herniated discs.

Smith testified that he continues to experience of instances of throbbing and shooting pain in his neck, upper back, and left hip. He said that he has difficulty interacting with his children. Smith’s wife testified that he complains of pain after sitting too long and exercising. He sought damages for past and future pain and suffering.

Howie’s expert in neuroradiology opined that the alleged herniations indicated degenerative disc disease, and that Smith’s imaging showed no evidence of an injury related to the accident.

The jury found Howie 80 percent liable and Carter 20 percent liable. Smith was determined to receive $140,000.

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