verdicts-and-settlements-article Butts v. Pendleton $225K Verdict

Date of Verdict:

Feb. 20.

Court and Case No.:

C.P. Philadelphia No. 160901852.

Judge:

Frederica A. Massiah-Jackson.

Type of Action:

Motor vehicle.

Injuries:

Neck injury.

Plaintiffs Counsel:

Jessalyn Gillum, Simon & Simon, Philadelphia.

Defense Counsel:

Justin A. Schluth, Hubshman, Flood, Bullock & Dorn, Plymouth Meeting.

Plaintiffs Expert:

Dr. Mark Avart, orthopedic surgery, Philadelphia.

Defense Expert:

Sachin Dheer, radiology, Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

Comment:

On Jan. 3, 2015, plaintiff Allen Butts, 50, a medical technician, was stopped at McDade Boulevard while attempting to turn left onto Church Lane, in Yeadon. While he waited to make the turn, his sport utility vehicle was rear-ended by a sedan. He claimed permanent neck injuries.

Butts sued the sedan driver, Vasandra Pendleton, alleging that she was negligent.

Butts testified that he had been stopped and was about to turn left when he had to stop again, in order to let a group of children, who had run into the intersection, pass through. Butts’ counsel faulted Pendleton for failing to maintain a safe distance behind Butts’ vehicle. Pendleton faulted Butts for causing the accident by coming to a sudden stop.

Following Pendleton’s case-in-chief, Butts’ counsel motioned for a directed verdict on the issue of negligence, which the court granted.

Butts claimed that a couple days after the accident, he began experiencing neck pain. Two weeks post-accident, he presented to a chiropractor, with whom he treated three times a week for four months. He had an MRI and an EMG and was diagnosed with herniations at cervical intervertebral discs C3-4, C4-5, C5-6 and C6-7, and right-sided radiculopathy stemming from C6-7.

Butts said that he experienced numbness, tingling, and shooting pain throughout his right (dominant) arm, resulting in a loss of grip strength. Epidural injections were recommended but Butts declined. No further treatment was rendered.

Butts’ expert in orthopedic surgery casually related his injuries and treatment to the accident, and he opined that he had suffered a permanent neck injury. The expert recommended future epidural and trigger-point injections, which were estimated at $5,000 to $10,000 per year. Butts testified that he continues to experience radicular arm pain and loss of grip strength. He stated that this interferes with his job duties as a medical technician. Part of his job is to refill the various surgical solutions in the operating room. Due to his right arm limitations, he requires assistance to lift some of the solution containers, whereas before he did not need assistance. Additionally, prior to the accident, he was able to push a cart containing all of the medical supplies to distribute to the different operating rooms in one delivery. Now, however, he can only push a cart that carries less supplies, which requires him to make multiple deliveries. He sought damages for past and future pain and suffering.

Pendleton’s expert in radiology opined that Butts’ films exhibited degenerative changes with no evidence of a traumatic injury.

Pendleton’s counsel questioned Butts’ alleged injuries since he waited two weeks before seeking medical attention and he declined to receive injections.

The jury determined that Pendleton was liable for causing serious injury to Butts, who was determined to receive $225,000.

— This report originally appeared in VerdictSearch, an ALM publication. •