Torres v. Laniean

$160,000 Verdict

Date of Verdict: Oct. 10, 2018.

Court and Case No.: C.P. Philadelphia No. 170902614.

Judge: Charles J. Cunningham III.

Type of Action: Motor vehicle.

Injuries: Neck, back injuries.

Plaintiffs Counsel: Christopher Green; Simon & Simon, Philadelphia.

Plaintiffs Expert: Bradley J. Ferrara, physical medicine, Willow Grove.

Defense Counsel: Danette C. Dean, Law Offices of Kenneth S. O’Neill, Philadelphia.

Defense Expert: Ronald N. Rosenfeld, orthopedic surgery; Broomall.


On June 13, 2017, plaintiff Israel Torres, 49, a custodian, was driving on Devereaux Avenue, at its intersection with Roosevelt Boulevard/Route 1, in Northeast Philadelphia. The driver’s side of his sedan was struck by the front of a pickup truck. The truck’s driver had been traveling north on Roosevelt Boulevard and ran a red light. Torres claimed neck and back injuries.

Torres sued the driver, Joshua Laniean, alleging that he was negligent in the operation of a vehicle. Torres also sued the owner of the truck, Pasquale Papandrea, who was dismissed, prior to trial.

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

Following the accident, Torres walked to his nearby home and his son drove him to an emergency room. He complained of pain to the left side of his neck and left arm. Torres was examined and released. In the ensuing days, Torres, complaining of neck and low-back pain, presented to a chiropractor, with whom he treated regularly for four months, and then sporadically for two to three months. His treatment included massage and spinal manipulation.

Torres underwent MRIs and EMGs and was diagnosed with a herniation at cervical intervertebral disc C5-6, with radiculitis at that level; protrusions at C3-4, C4-5 and C6-7; bulging at C23, L3-4, L4-5 and L5-S1; and strains and sprains in cervical and lumbar spine. No further treatment was rendered.

Torres’ physiatrist causally related Torres’s injuries and treatment to the accident. According to the expert, Torres will require pain injections, more chiropractic care and diagnostic testing, all of which was estimated at $1,000 to $3,000 per year in future medical costs.

Torres testified that he continues to experience neck and back pain, especially when performing his job duties as a custodian. He stated that he works through the pain in order to support his family. Torres also complained of difficulty sleeping. He sought damages for past and future pain and suffering.

Torres’ son discussed how plaintiff’s personality changed as a result of his injuries. Torres, whom his son described as the “life of the party,” was no longer as outgoing and energetic, according to his son.

Laniean’s expert in orthopedic surgery, who examined Torres, testified that his radiographic imaging suggested that the alleged herniation, bulging and protrusions were pre-existing and degenerative. Any injuries that Torres suffered would have been soft-tissue injuries, which resolved within months of the accident, the expert concluded.

The jury found that Laniean’s negligence was a factual cause of injury to Torres. Torres was determined to receive $160,000.

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiffs counsel. Defense counsel did not respond to calls for comment.

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