Cook v. Dougherty

Defense Verdict

Date of Verdict: Oct. 23, 2018.

Court and Case No.: C.P. Delaware No. CV-2016-010487.

Judge: G. Michael Green.

Type of Action: Motor vehicle.

Injuries: Back, head, neck injuries.

Plaintiffs Counsel: Alexander Kipperman, Spear, Greenfield, Richman & Weitz.

Plaintiffs Expert: Mark D.T. Allen, orthopedic surgery; Germantown.

Defense Counsel: Theresa Mogavero Simmons, Palmer & Barr, Willow Grove.

Defense Expert: Michael L. Brooks, radiology, Darby.


On July 26, 2015, plaintiff Robert Cook, in his early 60s, was driving on Oak Avenue at its intersection with Central Avenue, in Upper Darby. Cook asserted that he had been stopped at a red light. It turned green and he proceeded forward when his pickup truck was rear-ended by a sedan. Cook claimed a serious impairment to his neck, shoulder, knee and back.

Cook sued Dougherty, alleging that he was negligent in the operation of a vehicle. The owner of the vehicle, John Dougherty, was also sued and then dismissed, prior to trial. Dougherty maintained that Cook, after proceeding into the intersection, stopped suddenly. Dougherty stipulated to liability, and the case was tried on the issues of causation and damages.

Cook was taken by ambulance to an emergency room. He underwent an X-ray of his cervical spine, which was negative, and he was released. On Aug. 3, Cook presented to a rehabilitation facility with complaints of headaches and pain to his neck, shoulders, back and left knee. He was put on a course of physical therapy, which he treated through Dec. 28. He treated with exercise and massage for 73 visits. During that time, Cook consulted with an orthopedic surgeon, who via MRIs, diagnosed him with bulging at cervical intervertebral disc C2-3, protrusions at C3-4, C4-5, C5-6 and C6-7; a partial thickness tear of the right supraspinatus tendon, of his dominant arm; and degenerative changes at lumbar spine. He was further diagnosed with a lumbar strain and sprain.

No further treatment was rendered until June 2016, when Cook treated with seven more sessions of physical therapy and was prescribed pain medication. No further treatment was rendered.

Cook’s orthopedic surgeon causally related his injuries to the accident, and opined that he suffered a serious impairment of a bodily function to his neck and right shoulder.

Cook testified that he continues to experience pain and limitations in his neck and right shoulder. He can no longer exercise, has difficulty performing certain activities of daily living and has trouble using his right arm for overhead activities. Cook sought damages for past and future pain and suffering.

The defense questioned the severity of Cook’s injuries. It cited that there was no damage to either vehicle, and that there was a six-month gap in Cook’s treatment.

The defense’s expert in radiology testified that Cook’s MRIs only showed pre-existing degenerative disc disease throughout his spine with no evidence of trauma.

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiffs and defense counsel.

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