Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Recent Favorable Trial Result

I recently secured a defense verdict last month in a limited tort auto accident case.  What follows is a synopsis:

Name of Case: James Yuelling and Deborah Yuelling, his wife v. John Cessaro

Trial Verdict: Trial Verdict

Result:  Defense verdict on limited tort issue; jury awards Plaintiff $3,781.87 in medical expenses

Date: September 11, 2012

Defense Attorney: Daniel E. Cummins, Foley, Comerford & Cummins, Scranton, PA

Court/Docket No: Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas/7819-Civil-2009

Judge: Judge Michael T. Vough

Plaintiff’s Experts: Dr. Joseph Diana, Chiropractor, Hazleton, PA

Defense Expert: Dr. Thomas A. Allardyce, orthopedic surgeon, Wilkes-Barre, PA

This matter involved a motor vehicle accident that occurred on May 22, 2007 in Hazleton, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.

At trial, the defense admitted liability and also admitted that the Plaintiff sustained a left elbow contusion, and soft tissue sprain injuries to his neck and low back.

There was no dispute between the parties that the Plaintiff was covered by the Limited Tort option at the time of the subject accident. As such, although the Plaintiff was entitled to economic damages that were proven to be related to the accident, the defense argued that the Plaintiff failed to prove that he had sustained a serious injury to allow the Plaintiff to pierce the Limited Tort threshold and recover noneconomic damages.

The Plaintiff alleged that, as a result of the accident, he sustained injuries to his neck and upper back along with symptoms into his arms and hands. He also alleged an increase in his pre-existing, long-standing low back condition. Also noted were complaints of ongoing, periodic headaches. The Plaintiff additionally claimed that he had glass in his eye following the accident that was removed without any significant ongoing residuals.

The defense offered evidence that the Plaintiff had ongoing complaints and was totally disabled with respect to his pre-existing conditions in the years leading up to the time of the subject accident.

With the Plaintiff’s limited tort status requiring the Plaintiff to prove a serious injury in order to recover non-economic damages, the defense brought forth evidence confirming that, as a result of the accident, the Plaintiff was able to exit his vehicle and walk around the scene. It was confirmed that the Plaintiff did not have any loss of consciousness and was not bleeding other than from a minor cut from shattered glass.

It was additionally established by the defense at trial that the Plaintiff’s initial treatment following his emergency room visit for his allegedly serious injuries was only with his family doctor and his chiropractor. The Plaintiff treated with his chiropractor for approximately six months after the accident before stopping treatment. Thereafter, he continued to see his family doctor periodically during the year of the accident. In the following year, the Plaintiff had a few, sporadic visits with an orthopedic surgeon for complaints of shoulder pain.

The defense submitted the expert report of an orthopedic surgeon, who concluded that, based upon his review of the records and his examination of the Plaintiff, that the Plaintiff sustained a left elbow contusion, a cervical sprain injury, and a lumbar sprain injury. It was the defense expert’s further conclusion that these types of injuries were not serious and which typically lasted over a 12 week course.

After deliberating for approximately three hours, the jury returned a defense verdict on the Limited Tort issue by finding that the Plaintiff had not sustained a serious injury. That finding precluded any recovery by the Plaintiff for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, embarrassment, humiliation, and loss of enjoyment of life’s pleasures, and loss of consortium. The jury did award the Plaintiff’s claimed medical expenses of $3,781.17.

[Past results are no guarantee of future results and each case must be handled on its own merits.]

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