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Chronic Myofascial Pain Syndrome Brings Verdict of $170,000

Case Description: Married mother of two developed chronic pain syndrome after suffering a wrist injury in a Virginia Beach car accident.

Firm Attorney and Staff: James C. Lewis, Attorney; Denell Falzon, Paralegal; Julia Hatcher, Legal Assistant

Court/Date: Virginia Beach Circuit Court/May 2007

What Happened: Our client was a 32-year-old veterinary practice manager who was married and the mother of two young children. She was on her way home from work when the defendant pulled out in front of her, causing her to broadside his car at a speed of 35-40 mph.

The accident occurred in front of Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital, where she was taken by an EMT who happened to be passing by at the time of the accident. Our client was diagnosed with a left wrist sprain and a neck and back sprain. After he initial treatment, she followed up briefly with a chiropractor who provided little or no relief. Thereafter, she saw her family doctor who referred her to a physiatrist who started her on a course of physical therapy and trigger point injections.

Approximately six months into her treatment, our client was referred to a neurosurgeon for a neurosurgical evaluation. That doctor determined that she was not a neurosurgical candidate. According to the physiatrist, our client fell into the 5 percent of the of the patient population who never completely resolved their myofascial pain syndrome, and both he and the neurosurgeon opined that her chronic and neck and shoulder symptoms would remain throughout her lifetime.

Key Legal Strategy: The trial court allowed our plaintiff's attorney to ask jurors if they felt there were too many frivolous personal injury lawsuits being filed in America today. Of the fifteen members on the jury panel, eleven answered the question in the affirmative. Our attorney was then allowed to explore with each one of these jurors why they had that feeling. This allowed the lawyer for the plaintiff to discuss thoroughly the concerns each person had regarding personal injury cases. This was critical to preconditioning jurrs to understand that all personal injury actions are not frivolous. Once the final seven jurors were selected, six of them had answered the “frivolous personal injury” question in the affirmative.

In addition, 
both of the plaintiff’s medical doctors were prepared to testify that her injuries were permanent and she could never expect any improvement. The only expert witness the defense hired relied on inaccurate information in formulating his opinions. 

During closing arguments, jurors were asked to return a verdict for the full amount of the special damages together with the sum of $170,000.00 to compensate the plaintiff for past and future pain and suffering.

Outcome: The jury returned a verdict for the entire amount sought. the defense decided that they could not call him. Accordingly, the jury only heard from medical doctors who were supportive of the plaintiff’s claim.