verdicts-and-settlements-article

Firoud v. Carr

Defense Verdict

Date of Verdict: June 28.

Court and Case No.: C.P. Philadelphia, No. 160803547.

Judge: Edward C. Wright.

Type of Action: Motor vehicle.

Injuries: Back and neck.

Plaintiffs Counsel: Ryan S. Kilmer of Adams Renzi Law.

Plaintiffs Experts: Sherri Landes, psychology; Randall Smith, orthopedic surgery.

Defense Counsel: Michael Benjamin Gerstein of Bennett, Bricklin & Saltzburg.

Defense Experts: Andrew H. Shaer, radiology.

Comment:

On Sept. 11, 2014, plaintiff Hassania Firoud, 53, a retail employee, was driving a minivan on Frankford Avenue, in Northeast Philadelphia. After she became stopped in traffic at Robbins Street, she was rear-ended by a sport-utility vehicle. The SUV had been rear-ended by a vehicle driven by Jean Carr, and the impact pushed the SUV into the back of Firoud’s minivan. She claimed permanent neck and back injuries.

Firoud sued Carr, alleging that she was negligent. She also sued the vehicle’s owner, Patrick Carr, who was dismissed, prior to trial.

Carr stipulated to negligence, and the case was tried on the issues of causation and damages.

The next day, Firoud, complaining of neck pain, presented to her family physician, who recommended physical therapy. On Sept. 22, Firoud began a course of physical therapy, which she discontinued after five visits after switching health providers.

In October, Firoud came under the care of a physiatrist and an orthopedic surgeon, whom she had seen previously, for complaints of headaches, anxiety, depression and panic attacks. Firoud had MRIs and was diagnosed with herniations at cervical and lumbar intervertebral discs C3-4, C5-6 and L4-5. She was also clinically diagnosed with bilateral radiculopathy stemming from her lumbar spine, as she complained of radiating pain into her legs. Firoud treated with 10 months of physical therapy, which included exercise, massage, electrical stimulation and hot and cold packs. Following November 2015, no further treatment was rendered for Firoud’s cervical and lumbar spine.

In 2015, Firoud treated with psychological counseling for her complaints of emotional distress. She was diagnosed with post-traumatic distress disorder. No further treatment was administered, and she sought to recover $1,572 in medical costs.

In a report, Firoud’s orthopedic surgeon causally related her injuries and treatment to the accident and determined that she had suffered a serious impairment of functionality. The parties agreed to try the case pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1311.1. Under the rule, a verdict is capped at $25,000, and expert-witness reports are submitted into evidence instead of live testimony by the experts.

Firoud’s psychologist opined that the trauma from being in the vehicle accident caused her to experience stress and anxiety, ultimately resulting in post-traumatic stress disorder.

Firoud testified that she continues to experience pain in her neck and low back. This causes her difficulty lifting heavy objects at work and performing chores around the house, including vacuuming and cleaning. Firoud testified that she also suffers from anxiety, especially when driving, and that she is not as intimate with her husband. She also experiences moodiness and lethargy. She sought damages for past and future pain and suffering. Her husband had withdrawn his claim for loss of consortium, prior to trial.

The defense counsel’s expert in radiology determined that Firoud’s imaging studies showed no evidence of a traumatic injury, and that only pre-existing degenerative changes were present.

Carr’s counsel cited Firoud’s medical records, which showed that she had been diagnosed with prior cervical and lumbar herniations, radiculopathy, depression and anxiety. Counsel also noted that she had been in prior vehicle accidents in 2005, 2009, 2010 and 2012, and that her orthopedic surgeon and another medical provider had previously determined that she had suffered permanent injuries from the accidents.

The jury rendered a defense verdict. It found that Carr was not liable for Firoud’s injuries

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