A motorist being sued over a 2011 crash in Michigan argues in her trial brief that the plaintiff reported no injuries at the scene of the crash and sustained minimal damage to his vehicle.
Trial began Monday in Madison County Circuit Judge David Dugan’s courtroom.
Plaintiff Craig A. Atkinson is represented at trial by Edward Szewszyk of Callis Papa & Szewczyk PC in Granite City.
Defendant Nancy J. Polzin is represented at trial by Kenneth Williams and Nina Rosenbach of Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney Ltd in St. Louis.
Atkinson filed his complaint Sept. 3, 2013, alleging he was driving a 2003 Dodge Ram Truck on Sept. 5, 2011 traveling westbound in the far left lane on I-94 near Warren Wood Road in Chikaming Township in Michigan. At the same time, Polzin was driving a 2004 Ford Escape in the same lane.
Atkinson claims he was slowing down because of traffic in front of his vehicle when Polzin rear-ended his vehicle.
Atkinson alleges Polzin failed to keep her vehicle under control, failed to keep a proper lookout, improperly operated her vehicle too closely to the plaintiff’s vehicle, failed to reduce her speed, and failed to exercise due care and caution.
As a result, Atkinson claims he suffered injuries to his head, shoulders, ankles, knees, hand, back, neck and right leg.
However, according to a trial brief filed by Polzin on Aug. 10, she alleges the damage to Atkinson’s vehicle was “minimal,” and the plaintiff reported no injuries at the scene and declined medical treatment.
The brief states that Atkinson has been disabled since September 23, 2002. He also previously testified that he did not need help with anything around the house until the spring of 2014, three years after the collision.
The defendant argues that Atkinson’s medical records indicate that he has been suffering from back pain requiring epidural injections since at least 2006 and had been treated regularly prior to the collision.
Atkinson suffered from arthritis and also had a several knee surgeries in both knees leading up to a total left knee replacement in 2002.
The brief states that Atkinson visited Gateway Regional Medical Center the day after the collision, reporting pain in his low back, right ankle, left shoulder and left knee. X-rays of his right ankle and left shoulder and a CT scan of his cervical spine revealed “no evidence of acute post-traumatic process.”
“In sum, plaintiff’s right ankle, left knee, left shoulder, and cervical spine were all completely normal, and no objective evidence of any traumatic process was found,” the brief states.
Atkinson was involved in another collision on Nov. 8, 2015. His vehicle was allegedly struck from behind while it was stopped. He reported back pain at the scene. He was diagnosed with cervical strain and posttraumatic cephalgia following CT scans of his neck and head.
Atkinson then saw Dr. Benjamin Crane, a board certified orthopedic surgeon, on Jan. 26, 2017, for an independent medical evaluation.
Crane opined that, “It is my feeling within a reasonable degree of medical certainty that Mr. Atkinson sustained no objective changes as a result of the motor vehicle crash and has continued pain as a result of the degenerative conditions mentioned previously and not the result of the motor vehicle crash.”
The defendant argues that Atkinson's "extensive pre-accident medical history involving the same complaints he now attempts to relate to the subject accident, his refusal of treatment at the scene of the accident, the diagnostic studies performed at the hospital the day after the accident which revealed no evidence of acute post-traumatic injury, and the independent medical evaluation of Dr. Crane all lead to the conclusion that Plaintiff simply cannot prove his alleged injuries are the result of the subject motor vehicle accident. As such, Plaintiff should be barred from recovering noneconomic damages related to the accident,” the brief states.
The defendant further argues that Atkinson’s alleged injuries have not had an effect on his general ability to lead a normal life.
None of his doctors restricted him from yardwork or household chores. The plaintiff previously testified that his restrictions are self-imposed after stating that he needed help around the house beginning in spring 2014, the brief states.
Atkinson was also able to ride his motorcycle, play golf and fish following the collision.
Madison County Circuit Court case number 13-L-1497