$278,000 Jury Verdict in Three Car Rear-Ender Causing Torn Hip Labrum

On June 3, 2008, the plaintiff, Richard Girden, who was a right side rear-seat passenger in a Land Rover, was stopped on southbound Route 59 at 119th Street in Will County, Ill.  Another vehicle, driven by Fidel Ramirez, was stopped behind the Land Rover.  The Girden vehicle had been stopped for about a minute when the defendant Kathryne Niswonger’s vehicle drove into the rear of the Ramirez vehicle, pushing it into the Girden Land Rover.

At the time of the impact,  Girden, 50, was seat-belted and facing to his left lane with his two-year-old granddaughter, who was in a car seat in the middle of the back seat. His hips and shoulders were turned to his left. His right leg was extended under the front passenger seat. 

At the time of the crash, there appeared to be no damage to the Land Rover. Girden denied injury to the police at the scene.  However, two hours later, Girden experienced pain and pulling in his right hip when he tried to pick up his granddaughter. 

Girden’s symptoms became worse over the next week. He saw Dr. Kenneth Sanders, who gave him two injections for his pain and then referred him to another doctor, Benjamin Domb, M.D., who diagnosed a torn labrum in the right hip.

Dr. Domb performed arthroscopic surgery to repair the labral tear in February 2009. The surgery led to post-operative left leg deep vein thrombosis and lymphedema. Lymphedema is a condition that is caused by a compromised lymphatic system. 

Girden’s right hip pain returned a year after the surgery and ossification was discovered in the hip. Dr. Domb then performed a second arthroscopic surgery in November 2010.

Girden alleged the heterotopic ossification is a recognized consequence of hip surgery and was therefore proximately caused by the crash.

Heterotopic ossification is a process where bone tissue forms outside of the skeleton. It can be associated with trauma or hip surgery. 

Ramirez was named as a defendant, but was later dismissed on summary judgment.  The defendant Kathryne Niswonger, who was 31 years old at the time, admitted negligence the day before the trial began. 

The defendant argued that there was no damage to the plaintiff’s Land Rover. The defense also argued that Girden had denied any pain or injury at the scene and the labral tear would have been expected to cause pain immediately. Niswonger’s attorneys argued that his hip was injured while lifting his grandchild 2 hours later, not in the crash. Therefore, the defendant maintained that Girden’s surgeries and complications were unrelated to the occurrence and that Girden had hip malformations, which are associated with labral tears, and are believed to be able to cause labral tears and thus were pre-existing conditions that are unrelated to this incident. 

The defendant also brought a biomechanical engineer expert to trial, who testified that the collision was low impact with a delta-V force of 6.9, which would be insufficient to cause the hip injury that Girden complained of.

The jury thought otherwise and found in favor of the Girden for the following damages:

$243,758 to Richard Girden as follows:

  • $163,758 for past medical expenses;
  • $50,000 for pain and suffering; and
  • $30,000 for loss of normal life.

The jury also awarded Kimberly Girden, Richard’s wife, $35,000 for loss of services, whose damages were made up of:

  • $10,000 for loss of services; and
  • $25,000 for loss of society/consortium.

The attorney representing the Girden family was Benjeman Nichols.  The demand to settle before trial was $875,000.  The offer to settle the case by the defendant was zero.

Richard Girden, et al. v. Kathryne Niswonger, No. 09 L 444 (Will County, Illinois).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling automobile accidents, truck accidents and bicycle accidents for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 37 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Chicago (Bridgeport, Bucktown, Belmont Harbor, Chinatown, Edison Park, Garfield Ridge, Humboldt Park, Hyde Park, Jackson Park, Kenwood, Lincoln Square), Naperville, Lockport, Midlothian, Mundelein, Lisle, Kenilworth, Huntley, Oak Forest, Joliet and Aurora, Ill.

Related blog posts:

U.S. Court of Appeals Affirms Underinsurance Motorist Coverage; Wehrle v. Cincinnati Ins. Co.

Good Faith Settlement Tested in Illinois Appellate Court

$10,000 Cook County Jury Verdict in Intersection Crash Causing Herniated Disk