Low-impact rear-ender causes long-term pain and knee replacement claims; $507K. San Bernardino County.

Summary

Plaintiffs beat CCP 998 demand, while defense contends no causation of injury and no need for knee replacement.

The Case

  • Case Name: Diane Bassett-Smith and Latravis Farmer, Jr. v. Arcenia Flores
  • Court and Case Number: San Bernardino Superior Court / CIVDS1827221
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, March 04, 2020
  • Type of Action: Vehicles – rear-ender
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Lynn M. Poncin
  • Plaintiffs:
    Diane Bassett-Smith
    Latravis Farmer, Jr.
  • Defendants:
    Arcenia Flores
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $507,748
  • Economic Damages:

    Bassett-Smith:

    Past medical: $29,430

    Future medical: $66,150

    Farmer:

    Past medical: $5,248

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Bassett-Smith:

    Past: $100,000

    Future: $304,420

    Farmer:

    Past: $2,500

  • Jury Polls: 9-3 causation and 10-2 damages for Bassett-Smith and 10-2 causation and 10-2 damages for Farmer, Jr.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Hinman Law Group by John Hinman and Seth Workman, Long Beach.

    Law Offices of Joseph Pourshalimy, by Joseph Pourshalimy and Laura Ames, Los Angeles.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Law Offices of Kim L. Bensen by Cortney Carr, Ontario.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Jonathan Nassos, M.D., orthopedic surgery.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
    Daniel Kaplan, M.D., orthopedic surgery.
     
  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Rami Hashish, Ph.D., DPT, biomechanics.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Eugene Vanderpol, biomechanics.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On July 21, 2017, defendant rear-ended the car driven by plaintiff Bassett-Smith at the intersection of Tippecanoe and Harriman Place in San Bernardino. Plaintiff Farmer was a passenger in the car that was hit. Three days after the crash, both plaintiffs presented to a chiropractor and received several weeks of treatment for whiplash-type injuries.

    Plaintiff Bassett-Smith experienced ongoing knee pain in her left knee and was diagnosed with a meniscal tear and aggravation of pre-existing (but previously asymptomatic and undiagnosed) arthritis in her left knee. After a cortisone injection did not resolve her symptoms, she underwent arthroscopic surgery of the knee and when that failed, she had two more cortisone injections, which also failed to relieve her symptoms. As of trial she had been recommended a knee replacement surgery by more than one orthopedic surgeon. 

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That the forces of the crash caused whiplash-type injuries to both plaintiffs. That as a result of the crash, Ms. Bassett-Smith’s pre-existing degenerative meniscal tear and arthritis became symptomatic and that, despite several attempts at conservative treatment, she required a knee replacement. 

    Further, that Ms. Bassett-Smith, who was asymptomatic and had never had any left knee treatment before the crash, would not have had any significant symptoms or treatments in her left knee during her lifetime, despite the degeneration in her knee and that the crash was the cause of her symptoms and need for treatment.   

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That the crash happened at approximately 7.5-10.4 miles per hour and that there was insufficient force to cause any forces to be exerted on the knee or any trauma to the knee absent contact with the dashboard, which plaintiff Bassett-Smith did not have.

    That neither plaintiff was injured in the crash at all and were faking their injuries for money and that the jury should find for the defense on causation. 

Additional Notes

Plaintiff sent a policy limits $100,000 CCP 998 in April 2019.  Defense sent a $37,781.00 CCP 998 to Plaintiff Bassett-Smith in June 2019.  Plaintiff again asked for tender of the policy limits within the last month prior to trial and that demand was never responded to. Plaintiff Farmer, Jr. sent a $15,000 CCP 998 in January 2020 that was never responded to. Insurer was Allstate.

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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