Date of Verdict: June 11.
Court and Case No.: C.P. Philadelphia No. 120301449 .
Judge: Frederica A. Massiah-Jackson.
Type of Action: Motor vehicle.
Injuries: Neck herniations.
Plaintiffs Counsel: George S. Marion, Liss & Marion, Philadelphia.
Defense Counsel: Anastasia Filopoulos, Bennett, Bricklin & Saltzburg, Philadelphia.
Plaintiffs Expert: Dr. Gregory Nelson, internal medicine; Philadelphia, Pa.
Defense Expert: Dr. Michael Brooks, radiology, Darby, Pa.
Comment: A Philadelphia jury has sided with the defense in a rear-end motor vehicle case in which the plaintiff was claiming multiple disc herniations in her neck and the defendant had admitted to negligence.
After a two-day trial before Court of Common Pleas Judge Frederica A. Massiah-Jackson, the jury deliberated for 10 minutes before siding with defendant Michael Knight. Plaintiff Beatrice Rivers had demanded $125,000 to settle the claim.
On November 19, 2010, Rivers was stopped at a traffic light on Broad Street at the intersection of Louden Street in North Philadelphia, when the rear of her Toyota Corolla was struck by the front of a Pontiac Grand Am operated by Michael Knight. Rivers claimed that she suffered multiple cervical-disc herniations in the collision. Rivers sued Knight, alleging negligent operation of a motor vehicle. Knight stipulated to negligence and the case proceeded to trial on the issues of causation and damages.
On November 22, Rivers, complaining of pain to her neck and lower back and contusions to her knees (she claimed that she struck them on the dashboard), presented to an emergency room, where she was examined and released. She soon developed radiating pain in her arms and reported to an internist, who put her on a course of physical therapy, which Rivera underwent for six-and-a-half months.
An MRI of her neck showed herniations from C1 to T1, and she consulted with a pain-management specialist and an orthopedist. She was further diagnosed with cervical radiculopathy and lumbar strains and sprains. No further treatment was administered. In his videotaped deposition, Rivers' treating internist attributed her injuries and treatment to the accident, and said Rivers would require surgery if her symptoms persisted (the physician did not specify the type of surgery).
Rivers, who was not working at the time of the collision, testified that her constant pain and discomfort precludes her from performing household duties, such as cooking and cleaning, and working on volunteering projects, including fundraising. She sought to recover unspecified amounts in non-economic damages for past and future pain and suffering.
The defense's radiology expert testified in his videotaped deposition that Rivers' films showed evidence of herniations but the condition was pre-existing in nature and unrelated to the accident. The defense noted that Knight's vehicle only made minimal contact with Rivers' vehicle, which conflicted with Rivers' claim that the impact was significant and caused her to thrust forward and hit her chest on the dashboard.
— This report first appeared in VerdictSearch, an ALM Publication •