verdicts and settlements
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Date of Verdict:

March 29.

Court and Case No.:

C.P. Allegheny No. GD-16-001681.

Judge:

Gary Caruso.

Type of Action:

Arbitration.

Injuries:

Foot and neck injuries.

Plaintiffs Counsel:

Terrence M. Ging, Patberg, Carmody & Ging, Pittsburgh.

Plaintiffs Experts:

Jory Richman, orthopedic surgery, Pittsburgh; Gerard Myers, pain management, Monaca; Patrick Burns, podiatry, Pittsburgh.

Defense Counsel:

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

Defense Experts:

Charles Burke III, orthopedic surgery, Pittsburgh.

Comment:

On May 27, 2014, plaintiff Karyn Lynn Dubois, 46, a cashier, was standing on her front porch, at 340 Centre Ave., in Oakdale, when the porch collapsed and she fell about eight feet, into the basement. She claimed foot and neck injuries.

Dubois sued property-owner Robert Faust (who died during litigation), alleging that he failed to properly maintain the property.

Faust’s estate stipulated to negligence, and the case was arbitrated on the issues of causation and damages, during binding arbitration.

Dubois lay in the basement for approximately 30 minutes before she was extracted. She was taken by ambulance to an emergency room, where she was diagnosed with swelling to her left foot and ankle.

During the ensuing weeks she remained non-weight-bearing and followed up with an orthopedist, who applied a brace. An MRI was negative, and she underwent a course of physical therapy.

In December, a podiatrist examined her left foot and diagnosed an osteochondral cartilage defect, edema (swelling), and a decreased range of motion.

In early 2015, Dubois had steroid painkilling injections to her ankle, which minimally improved her condition.

After conservative treatment was unsuccessful, Dubois underwent arthroscopic debridement and an application of allograft cartilage with primary ligament repair. Extensive synovitis and a lateral talar dome lesion were identified and removed. Her ankle was placed in a splint and she remained non-weight-bearing for a week. She treated with further physical therapy.

Concurrent to her ankle injury, Dubois treated with a chiropractor for neck pain, throughout 2014. In early 2015, an orthopedic surgeon, via an MRI, diagnosed her with a herniation at cervical intervertebral disc C5-6 and with myelopathy (spinal cord damage). She was also diagnosed with radiculitis, as she experienced radiating pain in her right (dominant) arm. She continued to consult with the orthopedic surgeon throughout the year.

On Feb. 23, 2016, she underwent a 
fusion and anterior cervical discectomy at C5-6. No further treatment was performed, and she sought to recover a medical lien of $30,498.42.

Dubois’ podiatrist opined that she would suffer permanent impairments in her ankle, which may require work restrictions, such as breaks and limited walking and standing. She may require further office visits, physical therapy, bracing, steroid injections, anti-inflammatory medications, and further imaging studies, according to the physician. Dubois’ expert in pain management estimated her future medical costs at $96,250.

Dubois’ orthopedic surgeon causally related her herniation and surgery to the 
accident. According to the physician, Dubois is at risk for chronic neck pain and predisposed to having cervical disc degeneration at 
adjacent levels.

Dubois, who takes a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, testified that she gets occasional tingling in her fourth and fifth fingers of her right hand with decreased strength. Her ankle allegedly hurts every day, and swells after standing for long periods, especially at work. She sought damages for past and future pain and suffering.

The estate’s expert in orthopedic surgery, who examined Dubois, agreed that her ankle injury and treatment were related to the accident. However, the expert maintained that her cervical condition was pre-existing. Moreover, it was difficult to causally relate her neck surgery to the 
accident, since the condition appeared to have improved by February 2015.

Dubois was determined to receive $281,033.

This report is based on information that was provided by both plaintiffs and defense counsel.

—This article first appeared in VerdictSearch, an ALM publication •