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DAPHNE GOURLEY v. MAUREEN BAKER; 2021 ID Jury Verdicts & Sett. LEXIS 23


September 17, 2020

Published: January-February, 2021

Result: PLAINTIFF SETTLEMENT for $700,000.
Specials: Med. $159,678; Lost Wages - not claimed; Prop. Damage - vehicle totaled.
Award: $700,000

Injury: Neck injury; disc protrusions at C5-6 and C6-7 with bilateral stenosis requiring surgery for a two-level anterior cervical fusion. Fractured rib. Plff was transported to the emergency room at PeaceHealth where she was diagnosed with a rib fracture. At the time, she did not report any neck injuries. Although her symptoms began developing, she did not seek medical treatment for two months. Thereafter, she saw a nurse practitioner who referred her to an orthopedic surgeon for a cervical MRI. The MRI revealed disc pathology at C5-6 and C6-7 with stenosis. For approximately the next six months, Plff treated conservatively with chiropractic care and massage therapy. She also received spinal injections. Cont'd: Eventually, Plff underwent a two level cervical fusion surgery, following which her C6-7 radiculopathy and paresthesia resolved but she had residual C5-6 symptoms. The Def. argued that Plff's cervical injuries were not medically related since she did not report any neck injuries for two months. Plff countered that she was focused on the more painful rib injury which masked her neck pain.

Practice Area: Transportation Law
State: Washington
County: Clark
Judge: MEDIATOR: Mary Owen

Plaintiff Counsel
Edward Le & Jean JorgensenLaw Office of Edward K. LeJeffrey Caffee, Law Office of Jeffrey R. Caffee (both Renton)
Defendant Counsel
Kevin Sampson & Douglas Foley of Foley Sampson & Nicholes (Vancouver).

Case Summary

2/5/18 - Plff, female age 51, cashier. Plff was a passenger in a vehicle traveling in Vancouver, Washington. Plff contended the Def. failed to stop for a red light, striking the passenger side of her vehicle in a significant impact collision.

Plaintiff Expert(s)
Richard Rooney MD (Orthopedic Surgeon) Lompoc CA.
Defendant Expert(s)
James Harris MD (Orthopedic Surgeon) Bremerton.

Insurance: Grange



April 22, 2021

Published: November-December, 2021

Result: PLAINTIFF SETTLEMENT for $1,375,000.
Specials: Med. $250,357; Lost Wages - none claimed; Prop. Damage - vehicle totaled.
Award: $1,375,000

Injury: Neck injury; spinal stenosis at C4-5 and lighting up of discogenic pain requiring injections and surgery for a cervical fusion. Shoulder injury; partial thickness tear of the supraspinatus requiring arthroscopic surgery. Low-back pain. Plff was seen in the emergency room, then did not follow up with any treatment until six weeks later. He eventually treated at Spine Institute Northwest for right shoulder, neck and back injuries. An orthopedic surgeon eventually referred Plff for a cervical MRI that revealed degenerative disc pathology and spinal stenosis at C4-5 that clinically correlated with his upper extremity paresthesia and radiculopathy. For six months, Plff treated conservatively with physical therapy and medial branch block injections that provided short term relief. Eventually, Plff underwent a cervical fusion at C4-5, which resolved his radiculopathy and paresthesia, and significantly improved his neck pain. After, Plff pursued treatment for his right shoulder and low-back. His orthopedic surgeon recommended a right shoulder decompression surgery, which Plff underwent. The Def.'s experts opined that Plff's cervical injuries were the product of degenerative disc disease and not medically related; that since Plff did not report shoulder symptoms until a year later, his complaints were unrelated to the collision; and that Plff's occupation as a landscaper was probably the reason for his injuries. Plff argued that he had no documented symptoms to right shoulder, neck or back prior to the collision. Plff's experts opined that even if he had underlying degenerative disc disease, he was asymptomatic, and the collision was more likely than not the cause of his right shoulder, neck and low-back injuries. Plff interviewed lay witnesses and friends who indicated that he had no visible physical problems before the collision. Instead, they described him as an active person who enjoyed developing his landscaping business and someone who loved to walk and hike on the weekends.

Practice Area: Torts; Workers' Compensation and SSDI
State: Washington
County: King

Judge: MEDIATOR: Bradley Davis

Plaintiff Counsel
Edward Le & Jean JorgensenLaw Office of Edward K. Le (Renton WA); Jeffrey CaffeeCaffee Accident & Injury
Defendant Counsel
Keith Liguori & Ronald Yu of Davis Rothwell Earle & Xochihua (Seattle WA).

Case Summary

6/26/18 - Plff, male age 58, landscaper and Uber driver. Plff was traveling northbound on I-405 in King County, Washington. Def. Kemp was operating a van in the scope of his employment with Def. HealthPoint behind Plff's vehicle. Plff contended he began to stop for heavy traffic when his vehicle was struck from the rear by the Def.'s vehicle. The force of the impact pushed Plff's vehicle into the vehicle ahead. The Def. admitted liability but disputed the nature and extent of Plff's injuries.

Plaintiff Expert(s)
Theodore Becker Ph.D. (Physical Capacities) Everett WA.
Dawei Lu MD (Orthopedic Surgeon) Mount Vernon WA
Jason Boyer MD (Orthopedic Surgeon) Kirkland WA
Stephen Hou MD (Physiatrist) Bothell WA
Sanford Wright MD (Neurosurgeon) Everett WA.

Defendant Expert(s)
Michael Battaglia MD (Orthopedic Surgeon) Bellevue WA.

Insurance: Greenwich Plff Med.: Dawei Lu MD (Orthopedic Surgeon) Mount Vernon WA; Jason (Physiatrist) Bothell WA; Sanford Wright MD Def. Med.: Michael Battaglia MD (Orthopedic Surgeon) Bellevue WA;



June 26, 2019

Published: September, 2019

Result: Award: PLAINTIFF AWARD for $ 223,050.
Specials: Med. $16,687 past and $150,000 in futures (disputed); Lost Wages - none; Prop. Damage $4,755.
Award: $223,050

Injury: Neck and low-back injuries; disc injury at C5-6 and C6-7. Permanency claimed. Plff initially treated with his family physician for neck and back injuries. Chart notes indicated that Plff was back to normal within three months. Plff also treated with a chiropractor who noted the same. Following a six month gap in treatment, Plff resumed treatment for his neck and a cervical MRI revealed disc pathology at C5-6 and C6-7. Plff then sought treatment with a neurosurgeon, Dr. Laohaprasit, who opined that surgery was more than likely required. Def. McIntyre claimed that there was no causal relationship to the collision and the disc pathology that was noted on the cervical MRI. At arbitration, MetLife submitted an extensive declaration from Dr. Ward who performed a CR 35 exam and opined that Plff sustained cervical and thoracolumbar strain injuries and his symptoms had fully resolved within three months based on what his own family physician indicated. Dr. Ward disputed the ongoing treatment and disagreed with the opinions of the treating providers that such care was reasonable, necessary and related to the subject collision. Dr. Ward indicated that any current symptoms that Plff suffered were due to degenerative changes that likely occurred spontaneously. Plff addressed the gap in treatment with substantial documentation from his health care providers through records, reports and declarations that it was not unusual for a patient to believe that he made a full recovery and report that to his providers. However, given that Plff continued to refill pain medication for months, his providers uniformly testified that he had ongoing injuries from the collision and that his earlier reporting was nothing more than an overly optimistic self-report. His providers also testified that since there was no indication of any intervening trauma, there was no other explanation to account for his current symptoms other than the collision. Finally, his providers indicated that while he had obvious degenerative findings which were evident in diagnostic imaging, there was no evidence presented that those issues were actively symptomatic or that they were causing the complaints that Plff had experienced since the collision and continues to experience. Plff's neurosurgeon opined that he will require a future fusion surgery at C5-6 and C6-7 to alleviate his ongoing neck pain. In addition, Dr. Laohaprasit opined that Plff sustained injuries to his low-back resulting in ongoing pain and physical limitations.

Practice Area: Civil Procedure; Governments
State: Washington
County: King

Judge: ARBITRATOR: Mary Owens

Plaintiff Counsel
Edward Le & Jean JorgensenLaw Offices of Edward K. Le (Renton)
Defendant Counsel
James Mendel of Tyson & Mendes (Seattle) for Def. McIntyre; Katherine Bozzo of Johnson Graffe Keay Moniz & Wick (Tacoma) for MetLife

Case Summary

5/12/17 - Plff, male age 57, assembler. Plff was driving home with his wife after visiting his in-laws. Plff contended he slowed for a red light when his vehicle was struck from the rear by Def. McIntyre's vehicle. Def. McIntyre apologized at the scene and claimed that he had an issue with his brakes. Def. McIntyre admitted liability but disputed the nature and extent of Plff's injuries. Because the case could not be resolved, Plff filed suit and MetLife intervened. After months of litigation, the parties agreed to binding arbitration to resolve all claims.

Plaintiff Expert(s)
Varun Laohaprasit MD (Neurosurgeon) Bellevue
Minh Pham MD (Family Practice) Seattle
Carey Hughes DC (Chiropractor) Kent
Defendant Expert(s)
Brad Ward MD (Neurosurgeon) Yakima

Demand: $125,000 combined policy limits ($25,000 3rd party policy limits and $100,000 UIM policy limits). Offer: $25,000 from Def. McIntyre; none from MetLife.
Offer: $25,000 from Def. McIntyre; none from MetLife.

Insurance: State Farm (Def. McIntyre); MetLife (UIM)



March 22, 2021

Published: May-June, 2021

Result: PLAINTIFF VERDICT for $1,500,000. (The jury deliberated for less than two hours and returned the verdict that included $50,000 in past medical expenses, $450,000 in future medical expenses, $58,000 in past wage loss, $192,000 in past non-economic damages and $ 750,000 in future non-economic damages. Plff's extra-contractual claims are pending.).
Specials: Med. $49,656 (past), $750,000 (futures).
Award: $1,500,000

Injury: Fractured ankle; minimally displaced tibia, fibula and malleolus. Mild traumatic brain injury; cognitive changes. Plff was taken by ambulance to Harborview Medical Center where he was diagnosed with a minimally displaced tibia, fibula, and malleolus fracture. He was discharged and given a boot to wear. He then treated with a chiropractor a month later for his neck and back. After a few months of chiropractic care, he stopped treatment for about a year. Six months after the accident, he asked his doctors to release him back to work. As he went back to work and normal life, he began to notice cognitive changes like forgetfulness, attention deficits, irritability and subtle personality changes. His wife implored him to see a medical doctor, and he returned to his chiropractor who referred him to a neurologist. The neurologist sent him for neuropsychological testing that confirmed post-concussive changes in his attention, memory, abstract reasoning, and inhibition. Because Plff's conventional CT scan and brain MRI were essentially normal, he underwent several neuroimaging studies at Hoag Hospital in Newport, California, and UC Irvine Brain Imaging Center at his attorney's request. The imaging studies demonstrated subtle abnormalities in the frontal, parietal, and temporal regions of his brain, including decreased fractional anisotropy shown on a Diffuse Tensor Imaging (DTI) study and metabolic decreases on a PET scan. During litigation and at trial, the Def. vigorously contested Plff's brain injury, arguing that since Plff never lost consciousness, had normal brain MRI and CT scans, did not report cognitive symptoms to any providers until 21 months later, and was an older gentleman, he could not have sustained a traumatic brain injury. At trial, the Def. also argued that Plff's injuries were minor and there was no mention of any head injury at the scene or in the ER, all of which were true. The Def. also pointed out that Plff chose to voluntarily go back to work after six months and told his doctors he made great improvement. The Def.'s expert opined that the neuropsychological exam was flawed because the data on which testing was completed is normed to an American population. The Def. further argued that the DTI study, PET scan, and NeuroQuant studies were unreliable because they did not meet the Appropriateness Criteria for assessment of head trauma by the American College of Radiology. Dr. Wray and Dr. Blue testified that Plff's medical condition should have resolved in three months at the most. Plff presented medical and lay witness testimony about changes in his personality, mood, and behavior, as well as testimony from his doctors about his desire to get better and his coworkers to show that he was an honest, hard worker, even though his supervisor changed jobs before this accident and could not see what the post-accident changes were. Plff also presented extensive testimony of his background to show how functional he was before this collision versus how he was after the collision.

Practice Area: Insurance Law; Torts
State: Washington
Court: U.S. District Court, Western District

Judge: TRIAL JUDGE: Hon. Barbara Rothstein

Plaintiff Counsel
Edward LeMichael Kittleson & Jean JorgensenLaw Office of Edward K. Le (Renton).
Defendant Counsel
Heather Jensen & Sarah Macklin of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith (Seattle).

Case Summary

11/18/15 - Plff, Chinese American male age 73, currently retired. Plff was taking out his trash and putting his garbage containers along the curb in front of his house. Plff's neighbor was operating her vehicle just outside of Plff's driveway, and failed to see him as she changed gears from reverse to drive, striking him at a low speed. Both parties agreed that the impact occurred at a low-speed. Plff eventually settled his third-party case against the at-fault driver for $50,000 policy limits; and brought an action against Def. State Farm for his full $250,000 UIM policy limits. However, Def. State Farm made a pre-suit offer of $12,900 to resolve his UIM case, an amount that Plff and his counsel believed vastly undervalued his case. The pre-suit offer was eventually increased to $35,000. Plff brought suit in King County Superior Court, which was subsequently removed to Federal Court by the Def. Plff's contractual claims were tried to the jury.

Plaintiff Expert(s)
Martha Glisky Ph.D. (Neuropsychologist) Bellevue.
Mark Fishel MD (Neurologist) Bellevue
Robert Cooper MD (Physiatrist) Tacoma
Varun Laohaprasit MD (Neurosurgeon) Bellevue
Joseph Wu MD (Psychiatrist/Neuroimaging expert) Irvine CA.

Defendant Expert(s)
James Blue MD (Neurosurgeon)
Dean Shibata MD (Neuroradiologist), both Seattle
Linda Wray MD (Neurologist) Burien.

Demand: $250,000 (UIM policy limits).
Offer: $12,900, then $35,000 (pre-suit offers).
Insurance: State Farm
Length of Trial: 6-day Zoom trial



February 10, 2021

Published: September - October, 2021

Result: PLAINTIFF SETTLEMENT for $1,655,000.
Specials: Med. $67,506; Lost Wages - none; Prop. Damage - vehicle totaled.
Award: $1,655,000

Injury: Mild traumatic brain injury; Post Concussive Syndrome with cognitive loss. Wrist injury; tear of the triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) and rupture of the lunotriquetral interosseous ligament (LTIL) requiring decompression surgery. Soft tissue neck and back pain. Approximately five months following the collision, Plff began to notice cognitive difficulties. A diffuse tensor MRI revealed areas of fractional anisotropy in his frontal, temporal and parietal region, and a NeuroQuant MRI revealed subtle asymmetric volume loss. The Defs. disputed Plff's injuries, claiming that Plff's brain findings were due to pre-existing conditions, including hypertension and diabetes, that since Plff did not miss any work he could not have been injured, and that since Plff first reported cognitive problems five months after the collision, there was no causal connection between the alleged brain injury and the accident. The Defs.' neuroradiologist expert argued that the MRIs were unreliable. Plff's counsel hired an expert who discovered several clustered lesions in the frontal lobe representative of a traumatic axonal injury. Plff's counsel then arranged for forensic neuropsychological testing that substantiated Post Concussive Syndrome and symptoms classically related to frontal lobe damage. Plff's counsel then met with and interviewed his coworkers and friends who all positively testified to before and after changes in Plff's emotional, cognitive and behavioral state.

Practice Area: Civil Procedure
County: King

Plaintiff Counsel
Edward Le & Jean Jorgensen, Law Offices Edward K. Le (Renton WA).
Defendant Counsel
William Masters, Christopher Fender & Schuyler Wallace of Wallace Klor Mann Capener & Bishop (Lake Oswego); Carl Forsberg of Forsberg & Umlauf (Seattle WA)

Case Summary

8/23/18 - Plff, male age 42, cost accountant for a construction company. Plff was commuting to work and traveling on I-405 near the Kennydale Hill in Renton, Washington. Def. Hunt was operating a vehicle in the scope of his employment with Def. Stericycle behind Plff's vehicle. Plff contended he was stopped for traffic ahead when the Def. fell asleep at the wheel, striking his vehicle from the rear. Plff claimed that the Def. kept his foot on the accelerator, traveling approximately 10 mph, and never applied his brakes prior to the impact. The Def. claimed that the impact was light since video of the speedometer on the Def.'s truck revealed that the impact occurred at 5 mph.

Plaintiff Expert(s)
Diane Adams Ph.D. (Psychologist) Renton WA
Martha Glisky Ph.D. (Neuropsychologist) Bellevue WA
Alita Shaw MA (Speech/Language Pathologist) Seattle WA
Merrill Cohen (Life Care Planner) Renton WA.
Thomas Trumble MD (Orthopedic Surgeon) Bellevue WA
Mark Fishel MD (Neurologist) Kirkland WA
Alyssa Watanabe MD (Neuroradiologist) Fullerton CA.

Defendant Expert(s)
J. Michael York (Accident Reconstructionist) Tukwila WA
Nicholas Choppa (Life Care Planner) Bothell WA.
Roger Blauvelt MD (Orthopedic Surgeon) Auburn WA
Roman Kutsy MD (Neurologist) Bellevue WA
Eric Petrie MD (Psychiatrist) Seattle WA
Uresh Patel MD (Neuroradiologist) Seattle WA.

Demand: $2,000,000 (policy limits).

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