Thorson v. Denman

$50,000 Verdict

Date of Verdict: Nov. 1, 2018.

Court and Case No.: C.P. Delaware County No. CV-2016-010289.

Judge: G. Michael Green.

Type of Action: Motor vehicle.

Injuries: Head, neck, sensory/speech.

Plaintiffs Counsel: Ryan S. Zavodnick, Zavodnick, Zavodnick & Lasky, Philadelphia.

Plaintiffs Expert: Michael Martin Cohen, neurology, Bala Cynwyd.

Defense Counsel: James D. Palmer, Palmer & Barr, Willow Grove.

Defense Expert: Joseph S. Lubeck, neurology, Bala Cynwyd.


On Dec. 22, 2014, plaintiff Dale Thorson, 45, an owner of a pest-control business, was stopped on east Horseshoe Pike, in Downingtown, when his sedan was rear-ended by a pickup truck driven by Jeff Denman. Thorson claimed head injuries.

Thorson sued Denmana and Denman’s business, Denman’s Electrical Services Inc. He alleged that Denman was negligent in the operation of his vehicle. He further alleged that Denman’s Electrical Services was vicariously liable for Denman’s actions.

Denman stipulated to liability, and the case was tried on the issue of causation and damages.

The day after the accident, Thorson, complaining of pain to his neck and upper and lower pain, presented to an urgent-care facility. X-rays were taken and were negative, and he was prescribed muscle relaxants.

Thorson was referred to a sports medicine physician, whom he presented to in the ensuing days. He was put on a course of physical therapy, which he treated from January to March 2015. His treatment included massage and exercises. Thorson underwent MRIs, and he was diagnosed with strains and sprains to his shoulders and cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine.

Thorson alleged that within weeks of the accident, he began to experience periodic headaches and ringing in his ears. The headaches allegedly increased in intensity, and were often accompanied by nausea, blurred vision, confusion and photophobia.

Within months of the accident, Thorson came under the care of a neurologist, who diagnosed him with a concussion and post-concussion syndrome. Thorson was prescribed headache and pain medication.

Thorson also consulted with an otolaryngologist for the ringing in his ears. He alleged that the ringing is high-pitched and can be heard in noisy environments. Thorson was diagnosed with tinnitus.

Following his physical therapy, Thorson treated with concussion-related therapy. Through 2017, Thorson continued to consult with his family physician, otolaryngologist and neurologist. He also treated with home exercises during this time. No further treatment was rendered.

Thorson’s expert in neurology attributed his injuries and treatment to the accident, and opined that his injuries are permanent in nature. According to the expert, Thorson requires ongoing medical exams and testing on an annual basis, which was estimated at $7,500 a year. The expert noted that Thorson had a 33.5-year life expectancy.

Thorson testified that he continues to experience severe headaches and ringing in his ears. Additionally, he suffers from pain to his neck, upper back and shoulders. He alleged that the physical pain is worsened with stress or casual activity such as grocery shopping or light housework. He sought damages for past and future pain and suffering and for loss of enjoyment of life.

The defense disputed that Thorson suffered a concussion or tinnitus from the accident. Denman’s counsel noted that when he sought medical attention the day after the accident, Thorson did not complain of headaches or tinnitus. It was not until 21 days later when Thorson first complained of headaches, the defense noted.

The defense’s expert in neurology, who examined Thorson, opined that any injuries that he would have suffered from the accident were soft-tissue injuries that resolved within six months. He also contended there was no evidence that Thorson suffered a concussion and tinnitus, or is currently suffering from post-concussive syndrome, and that he does require any future treatment.

The jury found Denman negligent and that his negligence was a factual cause in bringing harm to Thorson. Thorson was determined to receive $50,000.

This report is based on information that was provided by defense counsel. Additional information was gleaned from court documents. Plaintiffs counsel did not respond to the reporter’s phone calls.

—This report first appeared in VerdictSearch, an ALM publication