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$3.1M Verdict for Woman Injured in Neck in Slow Collision

Even though the plaintiff had physical therapy, epidural injections and neck fusion surgery, the defense disputed the plaintiff's injuries.

A Pasadena, CA, jury awarded $3,102,463 to a woman who suffered a ruptured cervical disc as the result of a low speed, rear end car accident. The Los Angeles County Superior Court jury deliberated for approximately four hours before reaching its verdict.

Rahul Ravipudi, counsel for Ms. Gamage, stated, “this verdict is a fair and just outcome that ensures that Ms. Gamage’s medical care will be taken care of for the rest of her life. This is a case that need not have gone to trial but for the unreasonableness of the defendant’s insurance company.” Panish Shea & Boyle attorneys Rahul Ravipudi and David Rudorfer represented the plaintiff.

Teresa Gamage, 56, was the front passenger in a vehicle that was stopped at a red light in Beverly Hills, CA, on May 10, 2011, when it was struck from behind by the defendant driver at a low rate of speed, resulting in almost no property damage.

She sought immediate treatment for pain. Although an MRI taken three weeks after the incident showed degenerative disease with a 3-4mm disc bulge at neck vertebrae C5-6 that was not impinging on the spinal cord, the treating neurosurgeon determined that there was a ruptured disc at C5-6 which was impinging on the spinal cord and causing radiculopthy.

After conservative treatment, including physical therapy and epidural injections, did not relieve Gamage’s pain, she proceeded with a C5-6 fusion surgery in November 2011. Gamage could not afford necessary treatment after the surgery and did not obtain any.

Defendant disputes injuries

The defendant driver admitted her negligence caused the collision but disputed that the collision caused any injuries to Gamage. At trial, attorneys for the defendant questioned causation and challenged the reasonableness of  Gamage’s medical bills, her need for future medical treatment and the value of her pain and suffering.

The jury agreed with Gamage, awarding all of her requested past ($197,752.52) and future ($1,904,711.10) medical expenses and an additional $1,000,000 for past and future pain and suffering.

In eleventh hour settlement discussions, the insurance company offered only $87,000 to settle the case, and the highest offer before the start of trial was $350,000. “Hopefully this case serves as notice to insurance companies that they need to be reasonable and offer fair compensation,” continued Mr. Ravipudi.

While the jury was deliberating, the parties reached a high/low agreement of $650,000 and $5,250,000, plus costs, with all rights to appeal waived.

This is the third multi-million dollar jury verdict obtained by Panish Shea & Boyle LLP attorneys this year. Last month, in Diao v. Southern California Gas Co., also tried by Mr. Ravipudi, the firm obtained a $19,786,818 jury verdict for a man injured in a home gas explosion. In May, the firm obtained a $15,313,703 jury verdict for a woman and her daughter after the woman suffered a broken back while riding on a recklessly driven Alameda-Contra Costa Transit bus.

The case is Teresa Gamage v. Estelle Roitblat, Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, Case No. BC490437, Judge Jan Pluim.

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