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Case Style: Curry v. Chambers
Case Number: CJ-01-22
Judge: Joe Sam Vassar
Court: District Court, Creek County (Bristow Div.), Oklahoma
Mike Jones, Bristow, Oklahoma
Wm. Baron VanBurkleo, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Description: Automobile accident - On 3/12, 1999, Defendant was returning to Lawton from Tulsa on the Turner Turnpike (I-44) and was near Stroud when the collision occurred. It was raining very hard and she was in the outside lane. One of the Plaintiffs, Mr. Vernon Curry, was driving his truck on the inside lane and passing Defendant when Defendant lost control of her car and struck the right rear tire of Mr. Curry's truck sending it into a spin. It struck the center median and Plaintiff Courtney Curry (minor child)said that, even though she was seatbelted, she was slung about the rearseat of the truck and struck her head on the rear window and her shoulder on the back of the front seat.
Plaintiff Courtney Curry went to the Bristow ER after the collision. X-rays were negative and she was released to see her primary care physician, Dr. David Krug. She saw Dr. Krug that afternoon and he looked at the X-rays, concurred that they were negative, and thought that she had a good bruise. From the accident date until 8/11/1999, Courtney Curry saw Dr. Krug on three more occasions for other medical problems but never mentioned any pain in the neck, shoulder or back.
On 8/11/1999, Plaintiff Courtney Curry went to Dr. Anthony Billings, for an IME. At that visit, Dr. Billings thought she had acromioclavicular tendonitis in her shoulder. She did not see Dr. Billings again until 9/10/2001, over two years after the collision. However, at this point, she had seen Dr. Krug a total of nine times from the DOL and still there was no mention in Dr. Krug's progress notes that she complained of any neck, shoulder or back pain or any numbness in her hands or fingers. On the 9/10/2001 visit to Dr. Billings, he ordered an MRI of her neck and shoulder. This MRI was done at Healthsouth and both the shoulder and neck were read as normal by the radiologist. Pltf returned to Dr. Billings on 9/14/2001 to discuss the results and his progress note said that he reviewed the MRI of the cervical spine which was "completely normal". However, at his deposition, he said that progress note was in error and that he originally identified the C3-4 bulge at that time. He said that there was nothing seriously wrong and that he didn't need to see Courtney unless she began having other problems.
On 12/27/2002, Courtney again presented to Dr. Billings claiming that she was still having problems. He ordered another MRI which was done on 1/2/2003 at MRI Specialists of Tulsa. It was read by a different radiologist who identified a tiny syrinx in the Plaintiff's spinal cord but, otherwise, he found her intervertebral disc spaces were normal and there was no evidence of any bulge or herniation. Courtney went back to Dr. Billings to discuss this MRI on 1/17/2003 but he still diagnosed a herniated C3-4 disc and said that, at this time, no surgical intervention was warranted.
Plaintiff Courtney Curry claims a disc herniation (bulge) of C3–4. She claims that she has intermittent pain in her neck and shoulder which radiates into her hand. She says that it bothers her at least a couple of times a week. She is in the high school band and said that her claimed injury affects her ability to hold her instrument. Dr. Billings believes that her problems are caused by the claimed bulge in C3-4. Dr. Billings stated that he believes that, within a reasonable degree of medical probability, that Courtney will require surgery in the future to correct the disc bulge.
Plaintiff Courtney Curry claims pain and suffering and other incidental damages to include the prospect that she may have future medical as a result of Dr. Billings's opinion that she will probably require surgery on her neck in the future. Her father, Plaintiff Vernon Curry claimed damages for out of pocket medical expenses incurred in the diagnosis and treatment of his daughter's claimed injuries. His damages were placed at $4,836.95.
Defendant admitted fault but contested damages. Defendant offered $5,000.00 before trial. Plaintiff demanded $135,000.00
Outcome: Plaintiff's verdict for $50,000.00 for Plaintiff Courtney Curry. Defendant's verdict against Plaintiff Vernon Curry.
Plaintiff's Experts: Anthony Billings, M.D., neurosurgeon, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Defendant's Experts: Sami Framjee, M.D., orthopedic surgeon/spine specialist, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Comments: Wm. Baron VanBurkleo