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Case Caption: Judith Dabbs v Sergio Gonzalez & Laprieta Trucking, Case No.: 10-CI-0005,Williams County Common Pleas Court, State of Ohio, 4-day jury trial

Verdict: $16,500

Judge: J.T. Stelzer

Date of Verdict: 03/01/2012


Plaintiff: Joseph W. Westmeyer, Jr., Toledo, OH

Joseph W. Westmeyer, III, Toledo, OH

Defendant: Russell W. Porritt II, Toledo, OH

Facts: A motor vehicle accident occurred beyond the toll booth of the Ohio Turnpike in Bryan, Ohio on March 1, 2007. It was raining when Defendant Sergio Gonzalez, employed by Laprieta Trucking, had pulled over and was parked, looking over his log book. His tractor was running when his vehicle rolled forward and struck the back of a van in which Judith Dabbs was the passenger. The van was pushed forward, leaving the vehicle disabled. A broken axle was later produced by the tow company which brought the van in for repair.

The day of the accident plaintiff went to the emergency room with pain in the mid lumbar and thoracic spine. CT’s conducted at the emergency room showed generalized degenerative changes throughout the spine. ER Dr. Pappas, gave a diagnosis of acute mid thoracic and lumbosacral paravertebral muscle strain. Plaintiff had a history of spinal arthritis and pre-accident records showed plaintiff experiencing frequent low back pain including sciatica.

Weeks after the accident plaintiff complained of pain in her head, neck, mid back, low back and right thigh with long periods of sitting causing flair ups. She saw Dr. Szymanski a neurosurgeon for her back pain, bilateral leg pain and numbness. He could not truly pinpoint whether the accident was the cause of her pain in light of her history of back pain. Plaintiff eventually sought treatment from an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Gottlieb. PT was prescribed along with epidural injections at Pain Management Group. Dr. Gottlieb eventually performed two lumbar surgeries on Plaintiff, which included an anterior lumbar interbody fusion, insertion of intervertebral biomechanical devices, anterior plate fixation, and structure allograft. Plaintiff incurred a total of $431,382.87 in medical expenses.

Plaintiff claimed her injuries were continuing to worsen. Defendant Sergio Gonzalez was generally uncooperative, then failed to appear at trial. Negligent driving was not disputed at trial, but the proximate cause of plaintiff’s injuries, if any, and damages were.

A high-low agreement of $350,000/$25,000 was reached before the trial.

Plaintiff Profile: Plaintiff was an unemployed 44-year-old female on psychiatric and emotional disability at the time of the MVA.

Alleged Injury: Pain in the mid lumbar and thoracic spine, painful back flair ups, worsening back pain, right anterior thigh tingling, continuing disability and limitations.

Settlement Efforts: Last Demand: $1,500,000

Last Offer: $7,500

Insurance Carrier: Canal Insurance Company

Case Status: The negotiated low of $25,000 was paid and the case is closed.