Plaintiff: Subsequent crash was minor, didn't cause any injury
|Rear-ender, Motor Vehicle - Verbal Threshold, Motor Vehicle - Multiple Vehicle|
|Jeffrey D. Kates v. Alvin A. Ruiz, No. CAM-L-2239-11|
|Camden County Superior Court, NJ|
|Deborah Silverman Katz
- Anthony J. Leonard; Leonard, Sciolla, Hutchison, Leonard & Tinari, LLP; Moorestown, NJ, for Jeffrey D. Kates
- Stuart Dubowitch D.O.; Orthopedic Surgery; Cherry Hill, NJ called by: Anthony Leonard
- Thomas Oliver D.C.; Chiropractic; Moorestown, NJ called by: Anthony Leonard
- Jeffrey Gleimer D.O.; Orthopedic Surgery; Stratford, NJ called by: Anthony Leonard
- Everett F. Simpson; Law Offices of Doreen M. Ryan; Moorestown, NJ, for Alvin Ruiz
On Aug. 12, 2009, plaintiff Jeffrey Kates, 27, a grocery-store clerk, was traveling southbound on Westfield Avenue in Pennsauken Township. Kates claimed that as he stopped to make a left turn at 48th Street, a pickup truck being driven by Alvin Ruiz struck him from the rear. According to Kates, the collision caused damage to the rear of his automobile, including the bumper and the trunk, and also caused him to suffer multiple herniated discs, among other injuries.
Kates sued Ruiz for negligence.
The defense stipulated to liability at trial, and the parties agreed to conduct an expedited jury trial featuring medical reports, but no live medical-expert testimony. It was further agreed that there would be a cap on damages reflecting the relevant policy's coverage limit of $50,000.
Kates did not seek immediate medical attention following the accident, but presented to a chiropractor on Aug. 29, 2009, complaining of back and neck pain.
Kates was involved in a subsequent rear-ender on Oct. 27, 2009. Kates testified that that accident involved a minor impact, and he did not attribute any injuries to that event; however, no MRIs were taken between the first and second accident, and the MRI taken after the second accident revealed multi-level cervical-disc bulging, disc herniation at T6-7, multi-level lumbar-disc bulging, and a herniated disc at L5-S1.
An EMG was positive for bilateral radiculopathy at L3-4, L4-5 and L5-S1, consistent with Kates' complaints of radicular pain to his extremities.
Kates' treatment included a lumbar epidural injection and two sets of right-side medial branch block injections at L3-4, L4-5 and L5-S1.
The defense argued that the second accident caused the injuries that Kates attributed to the crash with Ruiz.
The jury found that Kates had suffered permanent injury sufficiently serious to surpass the verbal threshold, and returned a total damages award of $150,000.
The verdict amount was molded by the court to reflect the $50,000 cap stipulated to by the parties.
This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff's and defense counsel.