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Home / Verdicts & Settlements / UIM carrier claimed plaintiff’s injury was pre-existing – $308,000 Verdict

UIM carrier claimed plaintiff’s injury was pre-existing – $308,000 Verdict

Plaintiff was involved in a motor vehicle collision in which he was a restrained driver stopped at a traffic signal when he was struck from behind.

Plaintiff was seen in the emergency room after the crash for severe headache, neck strain, back strain and shoulder pain. He consulted his family doctor about his shoulder and received an informal, undocumented recommendation to wait and see if it got better. When the shoulder pain did not go away after a period of some months, plaintiff saw an orthopedic surgeon. After initial conservative treatment, an MRI revealed a full rotator cuff tear of his right shoulder, and surgery was required.

The driver and owner of the defendant vehicle never responded to the lawsuit, and default judgment was entered against them. The case was defended by State Farm, the uninsured motorist carrier. State Farm eventually admitted liability, but defended on causation, claiming that plaintiff had an asymptomatic pre-existing rotator cuff tear.

The jury awarded plaintiff damages in the amount of $308,000, which exceeded the ad damnum.  The verdict was reduced to the ad damnum amount of $250,000.



Type of action: Personal injury – auto accident
Injuries alleged: Rotator cuff tear, right shoulder
Court: Newport News Circuit Court
Tried before: Jury
Judge: David F. Pugh
Date resolved: Nov. 14, 2014
Offer: $15,000
Verdict or settlement: Verdict
Amount: $308,000
Attorney for plaintiff: Wallace B. Wason Jr. and Berkley D. Foltz, Newport News
Plaintiff’s expert: John W. Aldridge, M.D., orthopedic surgeon, Newport News
Defendant’s expert: Sheldon L Cohn, M.D., orthopedic surgeon, Virginia Beach
Insurance carrier: State Farm


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