verdicts and settlements
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Date of Verdict:

April 16.

Court and Case No.:

C.P. Philadelphia No. 130203145.

Judge:

Esther R. Sylvester.

Type of Action:

Motor vehicle.

Injuries:

Soft tissue, back injuries.

Plaintiffs Counsel:

Marc I. Simon and Alexander M. Kroupa, Simon & Simon, PC, Philadelphia.

Defense Counsel:

Albert A. Griffith, Law Offices of Twanda Turner-Hawkins, Philadelphia.

Plaintiffs Experts:

Dr. Mark D. Avart, orthopedic, Philadelphia; Dr. Michael McCoy, family medicine, Philadelphia.

Defense Expert:

Dr. Stanley R. Askin, orthopedic, Philadelphia.

Comment:

According to the plaintiffs’ pretrial memorandum, on Sept. 10, 2012, plaintiff George Sabu, 39, a laborer, was driving a vehicle along North 5th Street in Philadelphia, with Mebitha Sabu, 31, a homemaker, as passenger, when a vehicle collided with the rear of the Sabu vehicle. The plaintiffs alleged that either Larry Sharp or Jalonda D. Hall was driving the vehicle. The plaintiffs claimed the accident caused back injuries.

The Sabus sued Sharp and Hall, alleging that the driver was negligent and the owner was vicariously liable.

According to a statement by the plaintiffs’ attorney, the vehicle fled the scene after the accident, but the license plate number was recorded.

The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants were 100 percent liable for the collision.

The defendants, in their answer, denied the plaintiffs’ allegations. The defendants further denied that Sharp operated a vehicle at the time and location of the alleged accident, and denied that Hall owned a vehicle involved in the accident.

According to the plaintiffs’ memo, the plaintiffs presented to the emergency room at Holy Redeemer Hospital, where they were both treated and then discharged. The plaintiffs both subsequently sought treatment at the Spinal Rehab Network. Mebitha Sabu complained of headaches and neck, back and hip pain. George Sabu complained of neck, back and shoulder pain, the memo said. Both plaintiffs treated with physical therapy, electrical stimulation, massage, exercise and spinal manipulation, according to the memo.

Mebitha Sabu underwent an MRI, which revealed L5-S1 disc desiccation with protrusion, the memo said. She also underwent an electromyography of the lower extremities, which showed lumbosacral radiculopathy involving bilateral L5-S1 nerve roots, according to the memo.

After reviewing Mebitha Sabu’s records, Dr. Mark Avart said her injuries were permanent and directly related to the accident, according to the memo. Avart further said she might require additional treatments, such as surgery or injections, including trigger-point or epidural steroid injections, the memo said.

George Sabu also underwent an MRI, which showed L3-4 disc desiccation with a central herniation, and an L4-5 desiccation with central herniation impinging on the thecal sac, the memo said.

Dr. Michael R. McCoy reviewed George Sabu’s records, the memo said, and reported that his injuries were directly related to the accident and permanent. The memo also said that McCoy additionally recommended that George Sabu undergo an EMG study, and that he consult with a pain-management specialist regarding possible injections.

A report from defense medical expert Dr. Stanley R. Askin opined that no objective medical data indicated that Mebitha Sabu’s complaints were subjective, and that George Sabu’s complaints were related to degenerative changes and not the alleged accident.

According to the plaintiffs’ memo, the plaintiffs demanded $190,000 to settle the case.

After a five-day trial, the jury found that the defendants were negligent and that the plaintiffs sustained serious injuries. The jury awarded George Sabu $150,000 and Mebitha Sabu $100,000.

“It affirms that, whether the cases are limited-tort or full-tort, good plaintiffs make good verdicts,” plaintiffs attorney Marc I. Simon said, adding that the case ultimately came down to credibility. “It was going to be an all-or-nothing case from the beginning.”

Defense attorney Albert A. Griffith, of the Law Offices of Twanda Turner-Hawkins, did not return a call for comment.

Max Mitchell can be contacted at 215-557-2354 or mmitchell@alm.com. Follow him on Twitter @MMitchellTLI.