Defendant disputes need for two back surgeries after T-bone crash. $2.1M. Los Angeles County.
T-bone collision at intersection results in back injury and two surgeries, but defendant disputes the need for surgery, arguing pre-existing injury and over-treating.
- Case Name: Delvecchio v. Bella
- Court and Case Number: Kern County Superior Court / BCV-19-103216
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Monday, August 30, 2021
- Date Action was Filed: Thursday, November 14, 2019
- Type of Action: Vehicles - Auto vs. Auto
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Bernard C. Barmann, Jr.
- Plaintiffs: Christine Delvecchio, 66
- Defendants: Cesar Dominguez Bella
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $2,150,000
- Net Verdict or Award: $2,150,000
- Settlement Amount: The case settled for $2,350,000 post trial.
- Economic Damages:
Past medical expenses: $350,000
Future medical expenses: $500,000
- Non-Economic Damages:
- Jury Deliberation Time: 14 days
- Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Plaintiff will be filing memo of costs seeking over $500,000 in costs and interest.
- Attorney for the Plaintiff:
Wilshire Law Firm by Jon Teller and Derek Monzon, Los Angeles.
- Attorney for the Defendant:
Law Office of Paul Auchard by Paul Auchard, Fresno.
- Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
Fardad Mobin, M.D., neurosurgery, Beverly Hills.
Jan Roughan, medical billing.
- Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
Thomas Hoyt, M.D., neurosurgery, Visalia.
Tammi Rockholt, medical billing.
Facts and Background
- Facts and Background:
The case arises from an August 7, 2018, vehicle collision in Kern County.
Plaintiff was driving west on SR-46. Defendant was at a stop sign driving north on Aloma Street. Defendant drove into traffic, causing the T-bone collision. Liability was admitted. Damages were contested.
Plaintiff underwent a lumbar fusion surgery on October 15, 2019, and underwent a cervical fusion surgery on July 7, 2020. Prior to the collision, plaintiff had experienced minor low back pain and neck pain in the early 1990s from a prior collision. She had undergone a total left hip replacement and a total right hip replacement due to arthritis/degeneration prior to the collision. Plaintiff also had been treating with a psychiatrist for years due to anxiety and depression and was taking medication for it.
- Plaintiff's Contentions:
Plaintiff claimed injury to her neck and back which required surgeries. Plaintiff claimed approximately $550,000 in past medical expenses and $1,500,000 in future medical expenses including a future cervical spine fusion with follow-up treatments with her doctors.
- Defendant's Contentions:
Defendant argued the collision caused minor property damage to the vehicles with no airbag deployment. Plaintiff was standing at the scene and there were photos of plaintiff on her phone and standing around taking photos of the vehicles. Plaintiff did not follow up with a doctor until three weeks after the collision, and the next doctor over two months after that.
Prior to the collision, plaintiff had experienced minor low back pain and neck pain in the early '90s from a prior collision. She had undergone a total left hip replacement and a total right hip replacement due to arthritis/degeneration prior to the collision. Plaintiff also had been treating with a psychiatrist for years due to anxiety and depression.
Defendant argued plaintiff only suffered a sprain/strain from the collision and the surgeries were a result of pre-existing arthritis/degenerative disc condition. Defense also argued the past medical expenses of $638,000 on lien were inflated, arguing that insurance companies would only pay approximately $100,000 and government payors would pay even less.
With regard to future medical expenses, defendant argued it was speculative whether plaintiff needed a future cervical surgery as plaintiff needed to wait another six months (approx. December 2021) to determine if the first surgery worked, and only then could plaintiff and her doctor decide whether she would need a future surgery. Defendant also argued that if she did undergo a future cervical surgery, then she should be all better and would not require any further treatment (similar to her lumbar spine surgery).
Injuries and Other Damages
- Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:
Neck and back injuries. Plaintiff underwent a lumbar fusion surgery on October 15, 2019, and underwent a cervical fusion surgery on July 7, 2020.
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: Approximately $550,000
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: Approximately $1,500,000
Demands and Offers
- Plaintiff §998 Demand: $999,999
- Defendant §998 Offer: $400,000