Date of Verdict:\Jan. 29.
Court and Case No.: C.P. Philadelphia No. 121100220.
Judge: Jacqueline F. Allen.
Type of Action: Motor vehicle.
Injuries: Soft tissue in back and neck; herniated and bulging discs.
Plaintiffs Counsel: Marc I. Simon, Matthew J. Zamites, Michael J. Soska Jr., Joshua A. Rosen, Alexander M. Kroupa and Andrew Van Wagner, Simon & Simon, Philadelphia.
Defense Counsel: James T. Moughan, Marc B. Bailkin, Britt, Hankins & Moughan, Philadelphia, for State Farm; Barak Kassutto, Law Office of Gerald Pomerantz, Philadelphia, for Bernard Irving.
Plaintiffs Experts: Dr. Monica J. Cash, chiropractor, Wynnewood, Pa.; Dr. Geoffrey W. Temple, osteopath, Philadelphia.
Defense Expert: Dr. Joseph R. Verna, chiropractor, Exton, Pa.
Comment: According to the retrial memorandum of plaintiff Elsie Hall, in September 2011, she was a passenger in a vehicle being driven by her husband, Hayden Hall, along Broad Street in Philadelphia. Elsie Hall was 68 at the time. As the vehicle attempted to turn left onto Stenton Avenue, a vehicle owned and operated by Bernard Irving exited a gas station in an attempt to cross traffic, the plaintiff’s memo said. The Irving vehicle collided with the front passenger side of the vehicle carrying the Halls. Elsie Hall allegedly sustained back and neck injuries.
Elsie Hall sued Irving; however, Irving was found to be uninsured, a pretrial memorandum from State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. said. Elsie Hall sought limited tort recovery from State Farm, with which she had an uninsured motorist policy. Counsel for Irving joined Hayden Hall as an additional defendant. Irving did not appear at trial.
Elsie Hall contended that Irving was 100 percent liable for the accident.
According to State Farm’s memo, Hayden Hall was comparatively liable for the collision. The memo said that Irving had intended to cross into the left turning lane, and the light at the intersection was red for northbound traffic, which was the direction the Hall vehicle was traveling. The vehicles in the right and center lane had stopped for Irving, allowing him to pass, the State Farm memo said. The memo further said that Hayden Hall admitted he did not see the Irving vehicle until the plaintiff screamed just before the accident occurred. If Irving had established himself in the left lane before the accident, State Farm’s memo argued, Hayden Hall shared the greater portion of liability.
Following the accident, the plaintiff presented to the emergency room of Albert Einstein Medical Center, the plaintiff’s memo said. She subsequently began treating at Spring Chiropractic and Rehabilitation Center with chiropractor Monica Cash, the plaintiff’s memo said. Elsie Hall complained of back and chest pains, as well as dizziness and headaches. She then underwent a course of physical therapy, electric stimulation, massage therapy, traction, exercise and spinal manipulation. Afterward, she was seen by Dr. Geoffrey W. Temple.
Elsie Hall subsequently underwent an MRI that revealed disc desiccation, a herniated disc at C4-5, and bulging discs at C6-7, C7-T1, T5-6 and T6-7, her memo said. The MRI also allegedly revealed a protrusion and herniated disc at C3-4, and protrusions at T10-11 and T12-L1. An electromyography also revealed cervical radiculopathy, including left C4-5 and right C5-6 nerve root damage, the plaintiff’s memo said.
The injuries allegedly led Hall to have difficulty performing her daily activities.
According to Hall’s memo, Temple opined that she suffered permanent injuries as a result of the accident and she may need additional pain management, including trigger-point and epidural injections, as well as facet blocks.
State Farm, in its memo, contended that Hall did not suffer serious injuries as a result of the accident, but only sprains and strains. Hall, the memo further argued, had suffered from a pre-existing condition.
The memo said that neither car was driving fast when the accident occurred, that the impact was minimal and there was not much damage to the vehicles. The memo further noted that no police were called following the accident and that the accident was not reported until days later. The police report that Hayden Hall made, the memo further said, was at odds with his testimony that his vehicle was at a complete stop when the accident happened. The memo further said that the accident report incorrectly reported the date of the accident.
According to State Farm’s memo, the plaintiff went to a restaurant with family members after the accident and did not present to the emergency room until several hours later.
State Farm also contended in its memo that Elsie Hall never sought treatment with her family physician after an initial call following the accident, and that none of the family doctor’s notes mention the car accident. State Farm further contended that Hall had been receiving ongoing treatment for neck and back injuries related to a 2004 accident prior to the 2011 collision.
State Farm’s memo further argued that Hall’s chiropractic treatment was suspect, and that Cash never touched Hall during the treatment. The defense memo further contended that Cash referred Hall to her counsel. The memo further contended that Hall’s initial emergency room visit was the only treatment she received for the first three weeks, and that her initial diagnosis was strains and sprains. The memo further argued that Hall did not treat for four months after the chiropractic care, and was directed to Temple for the purposes of litigation.
Dr. Joseph R. Verna, according to the defense memo, found only sprains and strains and further reported that the injuries were the result of aggravation of pre-existing cervical spondylosis. The doctor also found no traumatic injuries and deficiencies in the MRIs, the defense memo said.
After three days of trial, the jury deliberated for two hours and rendered a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. Elsie Hall was awarded $100,000 in pain and suffering. The jury found no liability against Hayden Hall.
According to State Farm’s memo, Elsie Hall’s insurance policy provides limits of $15,000/$30,000. Plaintiffs counsel said she made a claim for $60,000 in uninsured motorist benefits, but State Farm made no offers to settle the case prior to the verdict. Plaintiffs counsel plans to proceed with a bad-faith claim against State Farm.
“She was a likeable plaintiff,” State Farm attorney Marc B. Bailkin said. “I don’t know if they accepted their medicals or rejected ours, or went solely on liking her, or holding against the uninsured driver who wasn’t present at trial.”
— Max Mitchell, of the Law Weekly •