A Pennsylvania women reached a $315,000 settlement with the owners and operator of a truck that struck her motor vehicle, forcing her vehicle to strike the vehicle in front her. She suffered neck and back injuries that evolved into fibromyalgia, a chronic pain syndrome
Plaintiff Lillian Ridenbaugh was on her way to work in Montgomery County, PA, when struck in the rear by defendants’ truck. In this case, liability had been conceded by the Defendant.
She suffered post-traumatic fibromyalgia, a post-traumatic stress disorder due to the accident which is amplifying her symptomatology further, and an exacerbation of preexisting cervical and lumbar degenerative spondylosis which had resolved.
Attorney Anthony J. Baratta of Baratta, Russell & Baratta, Huntingdon Valley, PA, represented the plaintiff. The case is Lillian Ridenbaugh, John Ridenbaugh v. Kenneth Chisholm, Cedar Farms Company Inc., Penske Truck Leasing Co., Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County, June Term, 2015 No. 001075 before Judge Diane Welsh.
Expert witness Dr. Leventhal, a rheumatologist, was prepared to tell the jury that, “The theory on how trauma can initiate a generalized myofascial pain syndrome like fibromyalgia is that subsequent to the trauma in which there are soft tissue injuries, the process known as central sensitization takes place in which the pain centers continue to perceive ongoing pain impulses despite the fact that there should be normal resolution of these impulses with healing. An analogy would be phantom limb syndrome pain, in which patients, after having foot amputations, still feel pain at the site where the foot previously existed.”
But Ridenbaugh was not immediately diagnosed with post-traumatic fibromyalgia. Instead, she endured two years of painful yet fruitless medical treatments for unremitting pain in her neck and back, oppressive anxiety and nightmares about the accident, and depression as a result of pain and loss of her work and hobbies, before being properly diagnosed in December 2015.
Since being properly diagnosed, Ridenbaugh is no better, but at least she now knows why. Although her symptoms wax and wane, she experiences, daily, all over body aches which increase with activities, constant pain in her neck which radiates into both arms (left more than right), pain across her shoulder blades and pain across her low back and into her legs.
Dr. Leventhal performed an independent medical examination in December 2015. He reviewed extensive medical records, conducted a physical examination, and determined that Mrs. Ridenbaugh suffered a chronic cervical and lumbar myofascial pain syndrome which has evolved into fibromyalgia syndrome as a result of the crash. He found all treatment she had received up to the time of his evaluation as reasonable, necessary and causally related to injuries suffered in the crash.
Dr. Leventhal concluded that the plaintiff suffers from the fibromyalgia syndrome which has caused serious impairment of bodily function. She continues to have problems with generalized pain and limitations in both her vocational and avocational activities and activities of daily living. The prognosis for improvement is poor due to the fact that fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome. The fact that her pain has been ongoing for nearly two years (at the time of his report and now 3 years) places her at a poor prognosis category. He opined that the injuries sustained in the motor vehicle accident will be lifelong in duration and will require ongoing treatment including a regimented low level aerobic exercise program with slow gradual increments, improved sleep, and a trial of various medications.