Jury Awards $853 in Surgery Case

Joe Petka represented a defendant driver in which the Philadelphia jury awarded the plaintiff just $853, which was the cost of her emergency room visit. This was a significant major jury claim with a multiple six figure demand heading into trial.

This action was the result of a car accident where the plaintiff was stopped for a red light on Roosevelt Boulevard, when she was rear-ended by the defendant. The impact caused $4,294.89 in damage to the plaintiff’s vehicle and $6,850.85 to the defendant’s vehicle. Five days after the accident, the plaintiff presented to the emergency room with right shoulder pain radiating into her wrist. She presented to her family doctor for right shoulder pain and was then referred to an orthopedic surgeon. An MRI confirmed a rotator cuff tear. After physical therapy and cortisone injection failed to relieve the plaintiff’s symptoms, she underwent rotator cuff repair surgery, which resulted in 3 months of missed work. She then had post-surgery therapy and continued to follow up with an orthopedic surgeon. At the time of trial she continued to allege ongoing right shoulder pain and limitations. The defendant’s independent medical examination confirmed that the plaintiff’s right shoulder showed signs of impingement, atrophy and loss of range of motion, and that her injury was permanent. The plaintiff presented an economic damage claim of $25,490.50.

Mr. Petka defended the case on the grounds that the shoulder injury was unrelated to the accident at issue. Mr. Petka supported this position with the emergency room records, which in addition to noting the car accident at issue, also noted that the plaintiff had exacerbated her shoulder injury by shoveling snow. Mr. Petka also argued that the plaintiff was not credible because she denied ever having prior shoulder pain, despite the fact that she alleged bilateral shoulder pain in prior accidents.