Alizadehtazi v. Chung
Date of Verdict: Aug. 30.
Court and Case No.: C.P. Montgomery No. 2015-25238.
Judge: Gary S. Silow.
Type of Action: Motor vehicle,
Injuries: Dislocated knee.
Plaintiffs Counsel: William J. Coppol, Ostroff Injury Law, Plymouth Meeting.
Plaintiffs Experts: Andrew C. Verzilli, economics; Lansdale; Dennis P. McHugh, orthopedic surgery, East Norriton.
Defense Counsel: Geoffrey S. Peterson, Bennett, Bricklin & Saltzburg, Blue Bell.
Defense Expert: David E. Reinhardt, orthopedic surgery, Huntingdon Valley.
On Dec. 6, 2013, plaintiff Bita Alizadehtazi, 32, was in a crosswalk on Valley Road at its intersection with Mountain Avenue, in Elkins Park, when her right knee was struck by a sedan. The car had been on Valley Road and attempted to turn left at the intersection. Alizadehtazi claimed knee injuries.
Alizadehtazi sued the driver, Hongtaek Chung, alleging that he was negligent in the operation of a vehicle. Chung stipulated to liability, and the case was tried on the issues of causation and damages.
At the time of the accident, Alizadehtazi had been walking with her husband. Chung drove the couple to an emergency room. She underwent an X-ray and was placed in a right-knee immobilizer.
On Dec. 20, Alizadehtazi presented to an orthopedic surgeon, who, via an MRI, diagnosed her with a medial collateral ligament tear, a microtrabecular fracture/bone bruise and chondromalacia patella. She was fitted with two subsequent knee braces, and over the next 11 months, Alizadehtazi treated with physical therapy and multiple series of lubrication injections.
In March 2015, Alizadehtazi presented to another orthopedic surgeon with continuing right-knee complaints, as well as pain in her left knee. She underwent MRIs of both knees. The physician determined that her medial collateral ligament tear and microtrabecular fracture/bone bruise had resolved, but her chondromalacia patella was still present. The orthopedic surgeon also diagnosed her with chondromalacia patella of the left knee, which he attributed to her compensation for her right knee, due to the accident. In the ensuing years, and at the time of trial, Alizadehtazi continued to treat with the doctor and undergo lubrication injections.
Alizadehtazi’s orthopedic surgeon causally related her right and left chondromalacia patella to the accident. According to the physician, Alizadehtazi will continue to receive injection therapy. However, if her condition worsens, she may require an arthroscopy and debridement, estimated at $5,000 to $7,000, and a partial patellofemoral replacement, estimated at $20,000 to $25,000.
At the time of the accident, Alizadehtazi had been enrolled in a doctorate engineering program. She testified that her injuries and treatment set her back two years and she was not able to graduate on time. According to her expert in economics, she missed two years of income and fringe benefits, which were calculated at $153,000. In total, Alizadehtazi sought to recover $178,000 to $185,000 in economic damages.
Alizadehtazi and her husband testified about her pain and limitations since the accident. In order to perform an outside experiment during her doctorate program, she had to use a wheelchair because she was unable to walk through the snow. She also relied on a walker while performing her duties as a teaching assistant. Alizadehtazi allegedly experienced difficulty walking up and down stairs, and she continues to experience pain and clicking noises in her knees. She sought damages for past and future pain and suffering, and her husband sought damages for his claim for loss of consortium.
The defense conceded that the accident caused her to suffer a medial collateral ligament tear and a microtrabecular fracture/bone bruise, but disputed that her bilateral chondromalacia patella was a result of the accident. The defense’s expert in orthopedic surgery, who examined Alizadehtazi, testified that her chondromalacia was pre-existing and that she had the four main risks for the degenerative condition: she was a female, her weight, she had knock-knee and she had high-riding kneecaps.
The jury determined that Alizadehtazi would receive $100,000. Her husband was determined to receive zero damages.
This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiffs and defense counsel.
—This report first appeared in VerdictSearch, an ALM publication