Date of Settlement:

December 27, 2012.

Court and Case No.:

C.P. Bucks No. 2008-10394.

Judge:

N/A.

Type of Action:

Motor vehicle.

Injuries:

Leg, back and neck injuries.

Plaintiffs Counsel:

Charles S. Cooper, Cooper & Schall, Philadelphia.

Defense Counsel:

Harry B. Gosnear, Britt, Hankins & Moughan, Philadelphia.

Plaintiffs Experts:

Mark Lukas, vocational rehabilitation, Philadelphia; Andrew Verzilli, economics, Lansdale, Pa.; Joseph Guagliardo, orthopedic surgery, Philadelphia.

Defense Experts:

David Reinhardt, orthopedic surgery, Huntingdon Valley, Pa.; James Stavros economics; Haddonfield, N.J.; Jasen Walker vocational rehabilitation, Valley Forge, Pa.

Comment:

On December 4, 2006, plaintiff Marlene Richardson, 47, a line operator at a baking company, was stopped in a line of traffic that was waiting for a red light to change on Route 309, at the intersection with North Wales Road, in Montgomeryville, Pa.

While she was stopped in the line of traffic, the rear of Richardson’s Suzuki XL sport utility vehicle was struck by a Mercedes sedan being operated by Ellen Levin. The force of the impact reportedly caused Richardson’s vehicle to hit the vehicle stopped in front of her. Richardson claimed that the accident caused her to suffer herniations to her cervical and lumbar spine, as well as shoulder impingement syndrome that necessitated surgery.

Richardson sued Levin, who stipulated to negligence.

The litigation proceeded as to damages-related issues.

Following the accident, Richardson presented to an emergency room, where she was examined and released. She then followed up with her primary-care physician, who put her on a course of physical therapy, which remained ongoing at the time the litigation concluded.

During her initial months of treatment, Richardson presented to an orthopedic surgeon who, via an MRI and EMG, diagnosed her with herniations at C5-6, C6-7, L5-S1; radiculopathy; and carpal tunnel syndrome. Richardson was further diagnosed with left (non-dominant) shoulder impingement syndrome, for which she underwent diagnostic arthroscopic surgery on February 20, 2008. (Richardson’s therapy also addressed her shoulder injury.)

In addition to surgery and therapy, Richardson received a series of injections to her neck, shoulder and lower back — a lumbar-facet injection and lumbar medium branch block, cortisone injections to her shoulder and back, and epidural injections to her cervical and lumbar spine. The injections spanned from July 2007 to March 2009. Her suit sought to recover $65,707 in damages for past medical expenses.

In his report, Richardson’s treating orthopedic surgeon attributed her injuries and resulting treatment to the vehicular crash with Levin, and concluded that her injuries were permanent in nature. She would therefore continue to undergo indefinite therapy, it was argued.

Richardson claimed that she was left permanently disabled and unemployable as a result of the accident. She sought to recover $212,240 for past wage loss and $589,198 to $669,592 for future wage loss (based on a rating of 0 to 2 percent productivity).

Richardson’s suit further sought to recover unspecified amounts of non-economic damages, for past and future pain and suffering, and her husband sought damages of loss of consortium.

In his report, the defense’s retained expert in vocational rehabilitation concluded that even if Richardson is disabled, as she alleged, she is still capable of performing some aspects of her former employment. The defense’s retained economics expert stated that Richardson’s alleged damages in lost wages had been calculated incorrectly, and that, given that she could work in some capacity, she was still able to earn half of her salary at her former position.

At the close of discovery, the parties settled for $300,000, pursuant to the Levin policy’s available primary coverage. (There was excess coverage in the amount of $1 million.)

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiffs counsel. Defense counsel did not respond to the reporter’s phone calls.

<I>&#151; This report first appeared in</I> VerdictSearch Pennsylvania,<I> a publication of ALM.</I>&emsp;&#149;