verdicts and settlements
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Date of Verdict:

Jan. 25.

Court and Case No.:

C.P. Allegheny County No. GD-13-020457.

Judge:

Arnold I. Klein.

Type of Action:

Motor vehicle.

Injuries:

Brain damage, headaches.

Plaintiffs Counsel:

Richard J. Schubert, Alpern Schubert, Pittsburgh.

Plaintiffs Experts:

J. Burnett, chiropractic, McMurray; Robert Kaniecki, neurology, Pittsburgh.

Defense Counsel:

Gregg A. Guthrie, Summers, McDonnell, Hudock & Guthrie, Pittsburgh.

Defense Experts:

James Petrick, neuropsychology, Pittsburgh; Howard Senter, neurosurgery, Pittsburgh.

Comment:

On Nov. 14, 2011, plaintiff Tammi Peffer Grumski, 44, a nurse practitioner, was involved in a rear-end collision in Allison Park. She had been stopped at the intersection of William Flynn Highway (Route 8) and McCully Road when her Mercury Montego sedan was rear-ended by a Dodge Caravan minivan traveling 45 to 50 mph. She claimed her head struck the steering wheel and she suffered brain damage.

Grumski sued the other driver, Robert Anderson, alleging that he was negligent in the operation of a vehicle.

Anderson stipulated to negligence, and the case was tried on issues of causation and damages.

Grumski, who had a transient loss of consciousness and felt dazed, was taken by ambulance to an emergency room, where she was examined and released.

Grumski, complaining of pain to her neck and right (dominant) shoulder, followed up with a chiropractor, with whom she treated through April 2012 (treatment included massage and exercise). In December 2011, she presented to a physiatrist with complaints of headaches, fatigue and dizziness.

She was diagnosed with a closed head injury, a concussion, post-concussion syndrome, vestibular disorder and cognitive impairment (e.g., difficulty word finding). In January, impact testing showed her verbal and visual memory to be normal, but visual speed to be decreased.

In February 2012, Grumski was diagnosed with visual complaints by an ophthalmologist. In September, she resumed chiropractic care for an additional few months, due to pain in her right shoulder. She further treated with occipital nerve blocks, pain medications, trigger-point injections, and cognitive and vestibular therapies.

Grumski’s chiropractor and neurologist causally related her injuries and treatment to the accident. The neurologist concluded that Grumski suffered from a mild traumatic brain injury and aggravation of pre-existing migraines.

Grumski, who takes medication for her migraines, testified that she continues to experience neck and shoulder pain, dizziness, occasional word-finding difficulty, irritability, and fogginess. Despite her ongoing symptoms, she is able to work and perform her activities of daily living, she said. She sought damages for past and future pain and suffering.

Anderson’s expert in neurosurgery, who examined Grumski, noted that she had suffered a closed head injury in August 2004, when she was struck on the head by a car door. She had been diagnosed with a concussion, post-concussion syndrome and cognitive difficulties. There was no objective evidence that she suffered any structural injury to her brain or spine from the accident with Anderson, the expert said, and any ongoing complaints were the result of her prior closed head injury. The expert concluded that she is not disabled from performing any social, leisure, or work activity, and has no permanent or partial disability.

Anderson’s expert in neuropsychology, who examined Grumski, attributed her ongoing complaints to pre-morbid conditions of migraine headaches and injuries she suffered in 2004.

The jury found that Anderson’s negligence was not a factual cause in bringing about harm to Grumski.

This report is based on information that was provided by defense counsel and on court documents. Plaintiffs counsel did not respond to the reporter’s calls for comment.