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Trial Report No. 94-T74, Negligence

Auto Accident – Soft Tissue Injuries

Type of Action

Negligence, automobile accident

Type of Injuries

Cervical strain, alleged fibromyalgia

Name of Case

Violet Marie Hall v. Barbara Cordani

Court/Case No.

Montgomery County Circuit Court, No. V-9011

Judge or Jury

Jury

Name of Judge

Judge Ray W. Grubbs

Special Damages

$12,000 in medical bills; $21,000 in alleged lost wages; alleged $13,000 per year loss of earning capacity

Damages Awarded or Settled

Defense verdict

Attorney for Defendant

Eric S. Jensen, Richmond

Insurance Carrier

The Shelby Insurance Group

Highest Offer

$40,000

Lowest Demand

$80,000

Plaintiff’s Experts

Murray Joiner, M.D., physiatrist; Jefferson Teass, chiropractor

Other Useful Information

On Sept. 7, 1991, the plaintiff was traveling on Interstate 81 and attempted to pass the vehicle being driven by the defendant.

The plaintiff alleged that the defendant moved into her lane without looking, thereby forcing her off the road, onto the shoulder and subsequently onto the grass. The plaintiff alleged she traveled on the grass for 100 feet before returning to the paved surface of the road. She alleged she then lost control of her vehicle, striking a tractor-trailer and spinning around, traveling backwards up and onto a guardrail for 57 feet.

The plaintiff’s experts, Drs. Joiner and Teass, testified that the plaintiff suffered fibromyalgia, and that although she had progressed, fibromyalgia runs a waxing and waning course and would probably cause flare-ups in the future.

The plaintiff alleges that she previously had been a manager at Domino’s Pizza, earning $25,000 a year. She alleged she was out of work for 10 months following the accident, suffering a loss of $21,000. She was certified capable of working a sedentary job paying $12,000 per year, thereby alleging a $13,000 per year continuing wage loss.

The defendant and her husband, a passenger in her car, testified that she made a proper lane change and that when she looked in her rear-view mirror, the plaintiff was behind her in the left lane at a safe enough distance to make the lane change. The defendants alleged that the plaintiff was speeding, and that she failed to apply her brakes before driving off the road. This testimony was corroborated by a witness from Tennessee who never saw any attempt to brake on behalf of the plaintiff.

The investigating trooper, Lotts, confirmed the absence of skid/brake marks. The defendants alleged that plaintiff was able to maintain control of her vehicle until she got back onto the interstate, whereupon she overreacted, slammed on her brakes and jerked her steering wheel to the right and lost control.

The defendant called most of the plaintiff’s treating physicians to testify. The defendant called three of the plaintiff’s treating neurologists to testify as to the absence of muscle spasm and to the absence of neurological deficit. The defendant also called an emergency room doctor and two orthopaedic surgeons of the plaintiff’s, all of whom testified as to the absence of objective findings. Finally, the defendants presented the testimony of their independent medical expert, William R. Mauck, M.D., who testified that plaintiff had fully recovered, and that there was no objective evidence to support the finding of fibromyalgia.

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