Whiplash on Bus, Not Intervening Surgery, Caused Paraplegia; Greyhound Hit Big
Verdict: $15,967,000.00
Case: Jeff McCardle, D.C. v. Greyhound Motor Lines, Inc., No. BC 241 699
Court: Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Central, CA
Judge: James C. Chalfant
Date: 03-15-2002


Plaintiff(s)
Attorney:
Joseph M. Barrett; Mardirossian & Associates; Los Angeles, CA, for Jeff McCardle, D.C.
Curtis E. Floyd; Floyd & Horrigan; Bakersfield, CA, for Jeff McCardle, D.C.
Garo Mardirossian; Mardirossian & Associates; Los Angeles, CA, for Jeff McCardle, D.C.



Expert:
Craig Swanson M.D.; Family Medicine; Crescent City, CA called by: Garo Mardirossian
Philip Kanter M.D.; Orthopedics; Los Angeles, CA called by: Garo Mardirossian
Lawrence Miller M.D.; Physical Medicine; Los Angeles, CA called by: Garo Mardirossian
Arnold Purisch M.D.; Neuropsychology; Newport Beach, CA called by: Garo Mardirossian
Lester Zackler M.D.; Neuropsychiatry; Northridge, CA called by: Garo Mardirossian
Jan Roughan R.N.; Life Care Planning; Pasadena, CA called by: Garo Mardirossian
David Patterson M.D.; Physical Medicine; Pomona, CA called by: Garo Mardirossian
Peter Formuzis Ph.D.; Economics; Santa Ana, CA called by: Garo Mardirossian
Edwin Amos M.D.; Neurology; Santa Monica, CA called by: Garo Mardirossian
Richard Anderson; Vocational Assessment; Westminster, CA called by: Garo Mardirossian


Demonstrative Evidence: n/a


Defendant(s)
Attorney:
Dana A. Fox; Lynberg & Watkins; Los Angeles, CA, for Greyhound Lines Inc.
Norman J. Watkins; Lynberg & Watkins; Los Angeles, CA, for Greyhound Lines Inc.
Philip Hayes; Lynberg & Watkins; Los Angeles, CA, for Greyhound Lines Inc.



Expert:
Stephen Rothman M.D.; Radiology; Beverly Hills, CA called by: Joseph Barrett,Curtis Floyd,Dana Fox
George Brinton Ph.D.; Economics; Los Angeles, CA called by: Joseph Barrett,Curtis Floyd,Dana Fox
Peter Burkhardt Ph.D.; Psychological Injuries; Los Angeles, CA called by: Joseph Barrett,Curtis Floyd,Dana Fox
Peter Gruen M.D.; Neurosurgery; Los Angeles, CA called by: Joseph Barrett,Curtis Floyd,Dana Fox
Eugene Malitz M.D.; Psychiatry; Los Angeles, CA called by: Joseph Barrett,Curtis Floyd,Dana Fox
Srinath Samurdrala M.D.; Neurosurgery; Los Angeles, CA called by: Joseph Barrett,Curtis Floyd,Dana Fox
Robert Wilson M.D.; Orthopedic Surgery; Los Angeles, CA called by: Joseph Barrett,Curtis Floyd,Dana Fox
Robert Piziali; Biomechanical; Palo Alto, CA called by: Joseph Barrett,Curtis Floyd,Dana Fox
Edward Workman; Vocational Rehabilitation; San Clemente, CA called by: Joseph Barrett,Curtis Floyd,Dana Fox
Duke Hanna M.D.; Neurosurgery; Santa Monica, CA called by: Joseph Barrett,Curtis Floyd,Dana Fox
Andrew Levitt; Accident Reconstruction; Torrance, CA called by: Joseph Barrett,Curtis Floyd,Dana Fox
Michael Sinel M.D.; Physical Medicine; Westwood, CA called by: Joseph Barrett,Curtis Floyd,Dana Fox


Demonstrative Evidence: n/a
Insurer:
n/a




A Los Angeles County jury found that a relatively innocuous bus accident caused a chain of events that ultimately rendered a chiropractor in his 50s a partial quadriplegic, and awarded him $15,967,000.

The plaintiff lived in Bakersfield and worked in Los Angeles. On Jan. 18, 2000, he was a passenger on a defendant Greyhound bus heading towards Los Angeles. As the bus neared the Cesar Chavez Boulevard exit on the 101 Freeway near downtown, the plaintiff began to get up from his seat to retrieve his rain jacket and briefcase. As he stood up, the bus came to a sudden stop to avoid hitting a vehicle in front of it and the plaintiff felt his neck snap. When the bus stopped at the downtown station, the plaintiff claimed an injury (neck strain) and filled out a card. He then worked for the whole day at his office. When he got back to Bakersfield that evening, he told his wife that he was hurt on the bus and took a few aspirins.

The next day, his neck still hurt so he went to his family physician, who prescribed chiropractic therapy and pain medicines.. As the months went by, the plaintiff claimed that his condition grew worse. He was referred to an orthopedist and a neurologist, but nothing eased his discomfort. Eventually, the pain in his neck and left arm caused him to stop his practice as a chiropractor.

In late August 2000, the plaintiff saw an orthopedic surgeon, Francis D'Ambrosio, M.D., who reviewed MRI and proposed a four-level anterior/posterior discectomy and a partial carpectomy, with instrumentation. The surgeon operated as planned but the plaintiff did not have a good result. In February 2001, the doctor ordered an X-ray of the cervical spine and an MRI scan to check the healing process . The X-ray revealed that the metal plate holding the plaintiff's neck together anteriorly had displaced over two cm, and an aleoval strut had dislodged and was now floating in the neck area near the spinal cord.

On March 12, the orthopedic surgeon performed another surgery to totally decompress the front and the back of the cervical spine.. Another surgery was ordered for two days later, on the anterior portion of the neck. In the interim, the plaintiff's spinal cord was injured and he developed central cord syndrome, rendering him a partial quadriplegic.

The plaintiff argued that there was an unbroken causal connection between the relatively minor bus-braking incident causing a neck strain and the subsequent need for surgery that led to his paraplegia. The plaintiff claimed that there was no medical negligence.

The defendant maintained that this was a minor impact accident that would cause nothing more than a neck sprain that should have healed within a few weeks. It argued that the surgery was not indicated and unduly risky and that it broke the causal connection. It claimed that the orthopedic surgeon was 99% responsible for the plaintiff's injuries.


Injury:
The plaintiff claimed that the accident on the bus caused a chain of events that led to his partial quadriplegia. The plaintiff claimed past medical specials of $930,000 (stipulated). The plaintiff evaluated his loss of earnings at the bottom 10% of working chiropractors in Los Angeles County with seven years experience, approximately $50,000 annually.


Verdict Information:
The jury returned an award of $15,967,000 after finding in a 12-0 vote that the defendant was 100% at fault. The plaintiff's counsel reported that during trial, the parties negotiated a high/low agreement of 5.5million low/$14.5 million high with a waiver of costs and right of appeal.

Demand: $14.5 million


Offer: $3.1 million




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