Saladhine v. McLean

Defense Verdict

Date of Verdict: 

Sept. 13.

Court and Case No.: 

C.P. Philadelphia No. 160101956.

Judge: 

Ann M. Butchart.

Type of Action: 

Motor vehicle.

Injuries: 

Arm, lower back injuries.

Plaintiffs Counsel:

Thomas Bruno II, Abramson & Denenberg, Philadelphia.

Plaintiffs Experts:

Robert Nyahay, chiropractic, Philadelphia; Michael Brooks, radiology; Thornton; Raymond Wisdo, chiropractic, Woodlyn.

Defense Counsel:  

Anastasia Filopoulos, Bennett, Bricklin & Saltzburg, Philadelphia.

Comment:

On Jan. 30, 2014, plaintiff Rachid Saladhine, 49, a property manager, was driving on Woodhaven Road, in Northeast Philadelphia. His front-seat passenger was plaintiff James Ruffin, a carpenter in his 60s.

When they neared Academy Road, they became stopped in traffic and were rear-ended by a sport utility vehicle. The SUV had just been rear-ended by another SUV, which in turn had been rear-ended by Amanda McLean. Both Saladhine and Ruffin claimed neck and back injuries.

Saladhine and Ruffin sued McLean, alleging that she was negligent in the operation of a vehicle.

McLean stipulated to negligence, and the case was tried on the issues of causation and damages. McLean’s counsel maintained that there was no damage to the rear of Saladhine’s truck.

Saladhine drove Ruffin to an emergency room, where Ruffin was examined and released. Saladhine, who was not examined, returned home but later presented to an emergency room, where he was examined and released.

Two days later, Saladhine presented to a pain-management facility, and was referred for chiropractic care, which he treated with through July. Treatment included spinal manipulation and massage.

Saladhine underwent MRIs and EMGs, and was diagnosed with herniations at cervical and lumbar intervertebral discs C3-4, C4-5, C5-6, C6-7, L1-2, L2-3, and L3-4, and with right-sided radiculopathy stemming from C6-7. He experienced numbness and tingling in his right (dominant) arm and hand. No further treatment was rendered.

Saladhine’s expert in radiology only confirmed that he had herniations at L3-4, whereas his chiropractor confirmed that Saladhine had suffered multiple herniations in his neck and low back.

Saladhine testified that he continues to experience neck and back pain, which has made him moody and affected his relationship with his wife. He is no longer able to coach a youth soccer-league team, or to engage in physical activities at work. He sought damages for past and future pain and suffering. Saladhine’s wife, who made a claim for loss of consortium, had been stipulated out of the case, prior to trial.

Two days post-accident, Ruffin, complaining of headaches and neck and low-back pain, presented to a medical center and was referred to a chiropractor, with whom he treated for six months. Treatment included massage and spinal manipulation. He was initially diagnosed with strains and sprains to his cervical and lumbar spine.

Ruffin underwent MRIs and was diagnosed with herniations at lumbar intervertebral discs L3-4, L4-5, and L5-S1. EMGs were normal. He further treated with an electrical-muscle stimulator at home.

Ruffin’s chiropractor causally related his injuries and treatment to the accident, and opined that he requires future care.

Ruffin and his wife testified about how his injuries strained their relations. She has to help him put on and tie his shoes, and has taken on more household duties. Ruffin, who continues to experience back pain, sought damages for past and future pain and suffering.

McLean’s counsel noted that Saladhine’s expert in radiology had only observed one herniation in his back, which was inconsistent with his chiropractor’s findings of herniations throughout Saladhine’s cervical and lumbar spine.

According to McLean’s counsel, Ruffin had alleged that he had missed work for a while after the accident; however, his chiropractor stated that, throughout his six months of treatment, Ruffin always presented to his office wearing a work belt, which indicated that he had missed no time from work.

The jury found that McLean’s negligence was not a factual cause of injury to Saladhine and Ruffin.

This report is based on information that was provided by defense counsel. Plaintiffs counsel did not respond to calls for comment.

—This report first appeared in VerdictSearch, an ALM publication