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Left Turn by Tractor-Trailer Caused Back Injuries: Plaintiff


Perry v. Pulliam

$125,000 Verdict

Date of Verdict: Nov. 14, 2018.

Court and Case No.: C.P. Allegheny No. GD-15-019752.

Judge: Arnold I. Klein.

Type of Action: Motor vehicle.

Injuries: Back injuries.

Plaintiffs Counsel: Paul G. Mayer Jr., Friday & Cox, Pittsburgh.

Plaintiffs Expert: Robert G. Edwards, general practice, Pittsburgh.

Defense Counsel: Christopher J. Sichok, Law Offices of Terry L.M. Bashline, Pittsburgh.

Defense Expert: Stephen J. Thomas, orthopedic surgery, Pittsburgh.


On Dec. 12, 2013, plaintiff Arnold Perry, 62, was stopped in traffic while traveling south on 16th Street, just past its intersection with Penn Avenue, in Pittsburgh. As Perry remained stopped, the rear driver's side of his sport utility vehicle was struck by the trailer of a tractor-trailer, which was traveling northbound on 16th Street and which was attempting to turn left onto Penn Avenue. In doing so, the trailer came into Perry's lane and struck his SUV. Perry claimed back injuries.

Perry sued the driver, Curtis Pulliam, and his employer, P&S Transportation. He alleged that Pulliam was negligent in the operation of a vehicle. He further alleged that P&S Transportation was vicariously liable for Pulliam's actions.

The defendants stipulated to liability, and the case was tried on the issues of causation and damages.

Perry was taken by ambulance to a hospital where he was admitted with complaints of pain to his neck and low back. He was admitted, underwent X-rays and MRIs, and was diagnosed with strains to his cervical and lumbar spine, a sprain to his thoracic spine, and lumbar disc disease.

On Dec. 16, he was discharged with restrictions on physical activity, including lifting in excess of five pounds and no climbing or skipping.

For the next month, Perry consulted with his primary care physician and treated with over-the-counter pain medication. From Feb. 6 to March 19, Perry treated with six sessions of physical therapy; the treatment consisted of massages and exercises.

Following this treatment, Perry came under the care of his prior surgeon, who had performed a lumbar fusion and discectomy on him in June 2011. Perry underwent further testing and was diagnosed with a herniation at lumbar intervertebral disc L1-2, right-sided radiculopathy stemming from L1-2 and an aggravation of degenerative changes at L1-2, L3-4, L4-5 and L5-S1. Perry further treated with pain medication.

Perry treated through June 2014, at which time he underwent a back surgery relating to his June 2011 procedure. No further treatment was rendered.

Perry's physician testified that the accident caused him to suffer a traumatically induced herniation and radiculopathy at L1-2, and an aggravation of his pre-existing lumbar condition.

Perry, who was receiving Social Security disability benefits at the time of the collision, testified that he continues to experience ongoing back pain and radicular pain in his right leg. He stated that it is more challenging to perform some household chores and that he has difficulty standing and walking for long periods. He sought damages for past and future pain and suffering.

The defense maintained that any injuries Perry suffered from the accident were soft tissue in nature, which would have resolved within weeks of the accident. The defense attributed Perry's ongoing complaints to his longstanding, well-documented pre-existing back condition, which had resulted in a 2011 decompression and fusion.

The jury found that the defendants' negligence was a factual cause of harm to Perry. Perry was determined to receive $125,000.

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiffs and defense counsel.

—This report first appeared in VerdictSearch, an ALM publication.