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Attorneys for plaintiff: Christopher J. Toepp, Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen
Published By: Virginia Lawyers Weekly April 27, 2015
Plaintiff is a 58-year-old woman with a long history of back and neck pain. On Oct. 13, 2012, plaintiff was rear-ended while driving her grandchildren to a roller skating rink in Culpeper. Two years prior to the collision, she had an unsuccessful two level cervical fusion, and has severe degenerative disc disease in her lower back. She had been referred for lumbar surgery four times prior to the accident, the most recent referral coming 10 days prior to the collision. Because of these conditions, she was on disability prior to the accident.
At the scene of the collision, she told both the defendant and the responding police officer that she was fine, refused assistance from the rescue squad and went home with her husband. Several hours after the collision, plaintiff was experiencing severe neck, back, left shoulder and left hip pain. She went to the Culpeper Hospital emergency room, where the physician’s assistant noted neck and back pain, but also stated that the musculoskeletal examination of her extremities was normal.
Plaintiff followed up with her orthopedist, who initially focused treatment on her neck and back. Roughly two months after the accident, the orthopedist noted that her neck and back pain had returned to baseline and her shoulder range of motion was maintained. She continued to treat with a spine specialist and in the course of the ensuing six months, began to complain of restricted range of motion and left sided arm pain. Ultimately, her complaints focused entirely on her left shoulder when she was referred to physical therapy. An MRI taken at the time revealed a full thickness rotator cuff tear, which required surgical correction 10 months post-accident.
The only available insurance came from a State Farm liability policy with $100,000 limits. The pretrial offer in the case was $13,000. The defense hired Dr. William Andrews from Lynchburg for a DME records review and the case focused on causation. At trial, the plaintiff’s treating surgeon testified live. The jury found the rotator cuff was related, finding for the plaintiff on the issue of causation.
Type of action: Personal injury – auto accident
Injuries alleged: Rotator cuff tear
Name of case: Friend v. Rivera
Court: Culpeper Circuit Court
Case no.: Cl14000175-00
Tried before: Jury
Judge: J. Martin Bass
Date resolved: Feb. 26, 2015
Verdict or settlement: Verdict
Insurance carrier: State Farm
Attorney for plaintiff: Christopher J. Toepp, Fredericksburg, VA/Richmond, VA
Attorney for defendants: John Cattano
Plaintiff’s expert: Dr. Kenneth Accousti, orthopedics, Fredericksburg
Defendant’s expert: Dr. William Andrews, orthopedics, Lynchburg