Date of Verdict: Oct. 7.
Court and Case No.: C.P. Pike, 2735-2010.
Judge: Gregory H. Chelak.
Type of Action: Motor vehicle.
Injuries: Neck and back pain and herniations; urinary retention.
Plaintiffs Counsel: Kevin Conaboy, Abrahamsen, Conaboy & Abrahamsen, Scranton, Pa.
Defense Counsel: Daniel E. Cummins, Foley, Comerford & Cummins, Scranton, Pa.
Plaintiffs Expert: Dr. Lucian Bednarz, physiatrist, Scranton, Pa.
Defense Expert: Dr. Thomas Allardyce, orthopedic surgeon, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Comment: A Pike County jury found that a passenger of a vehicle involved in a collision on snow-covered roads did not suffer serious injuries as a result of the accident.
According to court documents, at about 5:30 p.m. Dec. 31, 2008, plaintiff Lois Little was a belted rear-seat passenger in a Chevy Tahoe SUV that was being driven by her son along Wild Acres Drive in Delaware Township. The road conditions were snowy. Near the intersection with Red Squirrel Street, a vehicle owned and operated by Yelena Olshankaya crossed the double-yellow center line and struck the rear portion of the Littles’ vehicle. Little claimed that the accident caused back and neck injuries, as well as urinary retention.
Little sued Olshankaya, alleging that she failed to control her vehicle, failed to keep a proper lookout, traveled at an excessive speed for the weather conditions, and failed to stay in the proper lane.
Olshankaya conceded negligence at trial.
Little claimed that the accident caused neck and back injuries, including cervical stenosis, herniated discs at L3-4, L4-5, C3-4, C4-5 and C5-6 and impingement on the thecal sac at L4-5 and C5-6. She also claimed the accident caused aggravation of pre-existing cervical and lumbar disc disease, urinary retention, bruises and contusions.
Little treated conservatively for the injuries, according to the defendant’s pretrial memo.
Olshankaya contended that Little did not suffer any injuries as a result of the accident.
After the accident, Little did not seek medical attention and continued on in another vehicle to Niagara Falls, N.Y., the defendant’s pretrial memo said.
According to court documents, Olshankaya argued that Little’s treatment was sporadic and conservative for soft-tissue complaints. Defense counsel, Daniel E. Cummins, said that Little first treated 20 days after the accident with her family doctor for a skin ailment, that none of the doctor’s notes over the four years after the accident mentioned the accident, and that Little’s treating neurologist and neurosurgeon found degenerative changes and did not think Little needed surgery. He also said that Little had been referred for physical therapy, but did not attend.
The defendant filed a motion in limine to preclude the plaintiff from going forward on the claim of alleged urinary difficulties, citing a lack of medical opinion, the defendant’s pretrial memo said.
According to defense counsel, the defense did not present the testimony of Dr. Thomas Allardyce, who had found that Little may have sustained a lumbar strain from the accident that had resolved, and the court did not given an adverse inference because the witness was unavailable for both plaintiffs and defense counsel.
The defense also utilized a PowerPoint presentation to show the jury the distance the plaintiff walked following the accident, the distance the family drove to Niagara Falls and several attractions Little visited during trips she took to Disney World Resort, Cummins said. He added that Little had argued that she drove a scooter during the trips to Disney World.
Following the two-day trial, the jury of eight women and four men deliberated for approximately one hour before returning a verdict finding that Olshankaya’s negligence was not the cause of Little’s injuries.
“In the end, when the plaintiff’s claims were not accepted, sure she was pissed, but the jury had spoken,” Cummins said.