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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

Motorist didn’t yield while exiting driveway, plaintiff claimed

HARRIS County

MOTOR VEHICLE

Left Turn — Broadside — Multiple Vehicle

Motorist didn’t yield while exiting driveway, plaintiff claimed

Verdict

$437,093

Case

Mark Robbins v. Phyllis Snipes,
No. 2016-54139

Court

Harris County District Court, 80th

Judge

Larry Weiman

Date

8/21/2019

Plaintiff Attorney(s)
Eric D. Nielsen (lead), The Nielsen
Law Firm, P.C., Houston, TX
Nicholas Pohl,
The Nielsen Law Firm, P.C., Houston, TX
Defense Attorney(s)
Matthew Witherel,
The Lanza Law Firm,
Houston, TX
Facts & Allegations

On Sept. 16, 2015, plaintiff Mark Robbins, 34, a welder, was driving west on East Medical Center Boulevard, in Webster. The street had two westbound lanes. Phyllis Snipes was exiting the driveway of a hospital.

Snipes was attempting to turn left in her pickup truck, into the eastbound lanes of East Medical Center Boulevard and struck the passenger side of Robbins’ sport utility vehicle. Robbins claimed that he suffered injuries of his back, his chest, his neck and a thumb.

Robbins sued Snipes. Robbins alleged that Snipes was negligent in the operation of her vehicle.

Robbins testified that, at all times, he was in the left lane, did not have his turn signal on and was traveling straight. He was not turning into the driveway or anywhere else, he said. Plaintiff’s counsel argued that Snipes alone was negligent.

Snipes testified that she exited of the hospital driveway because Robbins was in the right lane and had his right turn signal on, and she therefore thought he was going to turn into the hospital. Defense counsel asked the jury to find Robbins 51 percent and Snipes 49 percent responsible. In the alternative, he argued that the jury should find Snipes no more than 55 percent responsible.

Injuries/Damages

aggravation of pre-existing condition; arm; chest; chiropractic; contusion; discectomy; epidural injections; fusion, cervical; fusion, cervical, two-level; herniated disc at C5-6; herniated disc at C6-7; herniated disc at L3-4; herniated disc at L4-5; leg; nerve impingement; numbness; radicular pain / radiculitis; thumb

Robbins was taken to a hospital by ambulance from the scene. He was discharged the same day.

Robbins ultimately claimed that he suffered herniations of the C5-6, C6-7, L3-4, L4-5 and L5-S1 intervertebral discs. He further claimed that the C5-6, C6-7 and L3-4 discs caused nerve root impingement. Robbins had a pre-existing lumbar condition, and he claimed that the accident aggravated it. He further HARRIS County MOTOR VEHICLE Left Turn — Broadside — Multiple Vehicle Motorist didn’t yield while exiting driveway, plaintiff claimed TEXAS August 26, 2019 claimed numbness and tingling radiating to his arms and legs.

In addition, Robbins claimed a left thumb injury, which resolved in about six months, and a chest contusion, which resolved shortly after the accident.

Eight days after the accident, Robbins started chiropractic care, which lasted until late November 2015. In early January 2016, about five months after the accident, he began treating with an orthopedic surgeon.

On Feb. 2, 2016, the surgeon performed an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion at C5-6 and C6-7. Robbins’ last visit to the orthopedic surgeon was on June 24, 2016. He underwent an epidural steroid injection 26 days later, at L4-5.

Robbins’ surgeon opined that Robbins would need injections in the future to help treat the herniations.

At trial, plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award $137,093.36 for past medical expenses and $80,000 for future medical expenses. Past and future physical pain and past and future physical impairment were also in the jury charge.

The defense argued that the neck injury was not caused by the accident, and the defense expert, an orthopedic surgeon, opined that the charges for Robbins’ surgery and MRIs were excessive. The MRIs were billed at $4,000 each, and the defense expert said that $2,000 each would have been reasonable. The surgery was billed at $153,000, including an $82,520 surgeon’s fee, and the defense expert said that a two-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion is generally performed in Harris County for $40,000 to $50,000, of which $8,000 to $12,000 would be a usual and customary surgeon’s fee.

Defense counsel suggested an award of $22,060.50 for past medical expenses, nothing for future medical expenses, $2,500 for past physical pain, $2,500 for future physical pain, $2,500 for past physical impairment and nothing for future physical impairment.

Result

The jury found that Snipes was entirely liable for the accident. It awarded Robbins $437,093.36.

Mark Robbins

$137,093 past medical cost
$80,000 future medical cost
$10,000 past physical impairment
$100,000 future physical impairment
$10,000 past physical pain
$100,000 future physical pain
$437,093

Demand Offer

$490,000 (policy limit)
$40,000

Trial Details

Trial Length: 3 days
Trial Deliberations: 4 hours
Jury Vote: 10-2

Insurer(s)

National General Insurance Co.

Plaintiff Expert(s)

Stephen I. Esses, M.D.,
orthopedic surgery,
Houston, TX
(treater; video deposition)

Defense Expert(s)

Andrew P. Kant, M.D.,
orthopedic surgery,
Houston, TX

Editor’s Note: This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff’s counsel. Defense coun- sel declined to contribute. –John Schneider