Disputed injuries and causation to "eggshell" plaintiff, in rear-end accident. $359,485 verdict. Sacramento County.


"Eggshell" plaintiff needs increased pain meds, injections and future surgery after low-speed, rear-end impact.

The Case

  • Case Name: Jane Doe v. Landis, et al
  • Court and Case Number: Sacramento County Superior Court / 34-2012000133121
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, November 12, 2014
  • Date Action was Filed: Thursday, January 05, 2012
  • Type of Case: Vehicles - Auto vs. Auto
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. James McFetridge
  • Plaintiffs:
    Jane Doe, 56
  • Defendants:
    Sheron Landis
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $359,485
  • Award as to each Defendant:


  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: None
  • Economic Damages:

    Past Medical: $39,485

    Future Medical: $190,000

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past: $40,000

    Future: $90,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 5 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1/2 day

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Piering Law Firm by Rob Piering and John Beals, Sacramento.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Tiza Serrano Thompson & Associates by Gareth Umipeg, Sacramento.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Experts:
    Thomas Revesz, M.D., family practice, Sacramento (treating physician).
    Margaret Portwood, M.D., pain management, Sacramento (treating physician).
  • Defendant's Medical Experts:
    Eric VanOstrand, MD

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff, female age 56, was rear-ended while waiting at a stop light. Plaintiff complained of neck pain at the scene and was taken to the  hospital and diagnosed with strain/sprain to neck.

    Plaintiff saw her primary care doctor three days later and was referred to physical therapy. Physical therapist reported 80% resolution of neck complaints three months after the incident. After finishing physical therapy, Plaintiff again went to her primary care doctor and reported that physical therapy was not much help. Primary care doctor then referred plaintiff to pain management specialist Dr. Peggy Portwood. Dr. Portwood provided trigger point injections to plaintiff's neck with no benefit. She also referred plaintiff for epidural steroid of thoracic spine to address documented “pre-accident left rib pain”.

    A few months later, Dr. Portwood referred plaintiff for neck medial branch block which plaintiff responded well to. Thereafter, plaintiff underwent four different radio frequency ablations to the neck which provided substantial pain reduction to the neck. Plaintiff was also seen by spine specialist Dr. Tyler Smith who testified plaintiff will need a two-level neck surgery in the next 5 years because of the accident.

    Plaintiff had documented pre-existing conditions including the following: diagnosis of fibromyalgia, global pain syndrome, 45-year history of migraine headaches, 15-year history of non-migraine headaches, depression, chronic low back pain, chronic hip pain, chronic left rib pain, taking 3 Vicodin daily and 4 Tramadol daily since 2006 up through the date of the incident. Also taking Prozac and pain meds for migraines. Plaintiff additionally complained of neck pain 4 years before the incident, was referred to physical therapy with the records stating that headaches often included neck pain. Plaintiff also had urinary incontinence which defense argued kept her from running and working out. Plaintiff’s pre-accident activities included running, working out and gardening which she testified were impacted by the accident.


  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That low-speed rear-ender caused neck injury with ongoing pain which required extensive treatment and will require future surgery.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Per defense counsel, "no contention was made" and that this was a low speed rear-end impact.

    Per plaintiff counsel, testimony at trial for defense was that reasonable treatment post incident would have been 3-4 weeks and that all symptoms would have resolved in two months post incident. That plaintiff embellished her conditions and complaints. Also that her pre-accident activities were already impaired by pre-accident pain syndrome, migraines, chronic low back and hip pain as well as episodic incontinence.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Neck injury, with facet and disc damage.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $39,485
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $150,000-$190,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: None

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $74,999 (Per defense counsel: $150,000 until two weeks prior to trial, then reduced to $74,999 prior to trial.)
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $20,000

Additional Notes

Per plaintiff attorney: That because of the significant amount of pre-existing conditions and documented limitations, emphasis was made on the recovery of past medical expenses ($39,485) and future medicals ($150,000-190,000 for ablations and neck surgery). Plaintiff's counsel sought past general damages ($40,000) equal to the past medical expenses and future generals equal to future medical expenses ($150,000).

Plaintiff counsel says that defense blackboarded $9,000 for past medical expenses, argued all treatment one month post incident was nothing more than continuum of pre-accident pain syndrome and degenerative disc disease; thus, defense argued no future medicals and nothing for future general damages. Defense did not suggest anything for past pain and suffering.