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Our Verdicts

$1,750,000

18-Wheeler Collision

Settlement

$1,467,000

TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY

Jury Verdict

$1,070,000

AUTO ACCIDENT 

Jury Verdict

Broadside caused hip and back injuries, driver alleged

Harris County

MOTOR VEHICLE

Intersection — Broadside

Broadside caused hip and back injuries, driver alleged

Verdict

$1,070,000

Case

Lewis Harmon v. Jeremy Garza, No. 2012-17810

Court

Harris County District Court, 113th, TX

Judge

Michael L. Landrum Date 2/17/2016

Plaintiff Attorney(s)
Eric D. Nielsen, The Nielsen Law Firm PC, Houston, TX
Defense Attorney(s)
Steven S. Reilley, Thompson & Reilley, Houston, TX Peter Thompson, Thompson & Reilley, Houston, TX
Facts & Allegations

On Aug. 16, 2010, plaintiff Lewis Harmon, 46, was driving north on Fry Road at Morton Road, in Katy when Jeremy Garcia hit him. Harmon alleged that Garcia, driving on Morton Road, drove through a red light and struck the driver’s side of Harmon’s pickup truck with his sedan. Harmon claimed that he suffered injuries to his back and hips. Harmon sued Garza for motor vehicle negligence. Garza stipulated to liability, and the case was tried on the issues of causation and damages.

Injuries/Damages

aggravation of pre-existing condition; epidural injections; herniated disc at L2-3; herniated disc at L3-4; herniated disc at L4-5; hip replacement; leg; lower back; massage therapy; neck; physical therapy; scar tissue; soft tissue

Later that day Harmon presented to an emergency room with complaints of pain to his neck, lower back, and left leg. X-rays of his cervical and lumbar spine were negative.

A few days later, Harmon, experiencing pain in his hips (primarily his left) presented to a pain-management specialist, who put him on a course of physical therapy. Through March 2011, Harmon treated with massage therapy, exercises and electrical stimulation, all of which addressed his neck, back, and bilateral-hip pain (his neck pain later resolved). On March 11, Harmon received epidural injections at his L4, L5, and S1 levels, and thereafter discontinued his treatment with the pain management specialist.

Harmon presented to an orthopedic surgeon, who via MRIs, diagnosed him with an aggravation of preexisting arthritis in his hips and herniations at L2-3, L3-4 and L4-5. It was determined that Harmon required hip replacements; however, his orthopedic surgeon would not accept his Medicare benefits. In the ensuing years, Harmon, while looking for a physician who would perform the surgery, allegedly remained in pain and led a sedentary lifestyle. He relied on the use of a Harris County MOTOR VEHICLE Intersection — Broadside Broadside caused hip and back injuries, driver alleged April 4, 2016 as published in Texas walker and a cane, had difficulty going to the bathroom, and had to crawl to use the stairs. During this period he lived with his son.

In April and June 2014, Harmon received the hip replacements, and treated with weeks of physical therapy after each surgery. In August 2015, Harmon underwent surgery to remove scar tissue, which was followed by additional physical therapy. He sought to recover about $75,000 in outstanding medical costs.

Harmon’s orthopedic surgeon causally related his injuries and treatment to the accident.

Harmon’s counsel suggested that Harmon possibly requires future epidural injections in his lumbar spine and further surgery to address scar tissue in his hips.

Harmon, who continues to use a cane, claimed that he relies on his wife (he remarried following the accident) to help him put on his socks and shoes. He sought damages for past and future pain and suffering and physical impairment and mental anguish.

According to the defense, Harmon did not mention any hip injury at the emergency room visit on the date of the accident. During the first 10 months post-accident, Harmon mentioned his left hip once, and only treated for his lower back. The defense asserted that no treatment to the hips was sought by Harmon or suggested by any doctor until January 2013, almost two and a half years after the accident.

The defense argued that there was no competent medical-expert evidence establishing a causal relationship between the accident and either the degenerative hip disease or Harmon’s hip replacements.

Result

The jury determined that Harmon would receive $1.07 million.

Lewis Harmon

$145,000 past medical cost
$150,000 future medical cost
$200,000 past physical impairment
$200,000 future physical impairment
$200,000 past pain and mental anguish
$175,000 future pain and mental anguish
$1,070,000

Demand

$25,000 (policy limits)

Insurer(s)

Empower Insurance Group

Trial Details

Trial Length: 2 days
Trial Deliberations: 1 day
Jury Vote: 10-2

Plaintiff Expert(s)

Jose E. Rodriguez, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Houston, TX (treating)

Defense Expert(s)

Richard M. Larrey, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Houston, TX

Editor’s Note This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff’s and defense counsel. –Aaron Jenkins