On July 14, 2016, in front of federal Judge David C. Godbey in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas, attorneys Richard Harrison and Matthew Mumm argued for their client Siew Mei Lee. After a three-day trial, it took the jury just 90 minutes to reach a unanimous verdict that our client had not been negligent.
FACTS + ALLEGATIONS
April 24, 2012, plaintiff Margaret Banda, a teacher’s aide, was driving east on Walnut Hill Lane in Dallas. Banda’s husband, Jose Terrero Jr., was the vehicle’s front seat passenger. As Banda prepared to make a right turn onto Highway 75, she was rear-ended by an SUV operated by Siew Mei Lee.
Banda claimed injuries to her neck, left shoulder and left arm while Terrero claimed injuries to his low back. Banda and Terrero sued Lee, alleging she was negligent in the operation of an SUV. The owner of the SUV, Wickham Chen, was initially named as a defendant in the suit under negligent entrustment but was dismissed prior to trial.
Lee denied liability, arguing that Banda had been contributorily negligent. Lee alleged that Banda accelerated forward, then came to a sudden stop for no reason.
INJURIES + DAMAGES
After the accident, the plaintiffs did not seek emergency medical treatment. The parties exchanged insurance information but did not contact local police. The plaintiffs were seen at the emergency room of Medical City Dallas Hospital, where they were treated and released.
Banda was initially diagnosed with soft tissue injuries to her neck, non-dominant left shoulder and left arm. Terrero was diagnosed with, soft tissue injuries to his lumbar spine. Following diagnostic testing, Banda was diagnosed with cervical vertebral disc herniations at C4-5, CS-6 and C6-7. She was also found to exhibit thickening of the supraspinatus tendon of her left shoulder as well as effusion of the glenohumeral joint. Terrero was diagnosed with lumbar disc herniations at L3-4 and LS-Sl with an annular tear at L4-5.
The plaintiffs each underwent approximately three months of chiropractic care. Banda underwent treatment over 37 visits while Terrero underwent 30 visits. Banda received three epidural steroid injections at the cervical spine while Terrero received three epidural injections at the lumbar spine.
Both plaintiffs were temporarily prescribed pain medication, muscle relaxants, and anti-inflammatory medication. Both plaintiffs maintained that their injuries had largely resolved by the time of trial.
Banda claimed approximately $45,000 in past medical expenses while Terrero claimed approximately $30,000 in past medical expenses. The plaintiffs’ pain management expert testified that both Banda and Terrero’s injuries were traumatic in nature and resulted in permanent conditions.
A representative from American Specialty Pharmacy testified on behalf of the plaintiffs. She stated that Banda’s $3,666 prescription fees for pain medication were reasonable. On cross-examination, she conceded that this medication could have been purchased for much less.
Lee disputed the nature of both plaintiffs’ injuries, arguing they were non-acute and degenerative in nature. Lee also disputed the value of both plaintiffs’ medical expenses. Lee’s expert orthopedist testified that both plaintiffs’ injuries from the collision had been minor soft tissue injuries. He 1xpressed that any major findings from MRI results were due to degeneration.