Venue: Buchanan County
Case Number/Date: 10BU-CV05699/May 9, 2012
Judge: Patrick Robb
Caption: Christian Tanner v. Donna Staggs and Farmer’s Insurance Company
Insurer: Progressive Insurance for Donna Staggs; Farmer’s Insurance for underinsured motorist coverage
Plaintiff’s Attorney: James Montee, Montee Law Firm, P.C., St. Joseph
Defendants’ Attorneys: Todd Barrett, Harris McCausland, P.C., Kansas City for Donna Staggs; Dennis Davidson, Abbott, Davidson & Southard for Farmer’s Insurance Company
Plaintiff’s Expert: William Hopkins, Prairie Village, KS (orthopedic); Gregory Bedynek, St. Joseph (neurosurgery)
Mediator: William H. Sanders, Jr.
Plaintiff overcomes liability and causation issues and settled his auto accident for defendant’s policy limit of $50,000 plus $100,000 from his own underinsured motorist coverage.
In May 2007, Christian Tanner, age 37, sought medical treatment with a two to three month history of progressive neck pain. Tanner reported left-sided radiculopathy without neurological impairment. A cervical MRI on May 8, 2007 showed a herniated disk at C5-6 and to a lesser extent at C6-7. Dr. Bedynek, neurosurgeon, offered surgery (two-level fusion). Christian declined surgery and was referred to the pain clinic for epidurals. After epidurals, Christian reported complete resolution of all neck complaints and cancelled any followup with Dr. Bedynek. Christian resumed his work for the next three years as a nurse on an ambulance crew for Heartland Hospital.
On September 9, 2010, Christian Tanner was driving to work eastbound on Frederick Street in St. Joseph, Missouri. A 1996 Chevrolet Monza driven by Donna Staggs turned westbound from the northbound I-29 Highway off ramp and collided with Tanner’s Ford Explorer. Tanner’s vehicle sustained significant front end damage. Tanner was wearing his shoulder and lap belt. The air bag did not deploy. Both drivers claimed they had a green light and no independent witnesses were present.
On the day of the accident, Tanner reported electrical shock sensations such as tingling pain shooting down both arms with any motion of his cervical spine. A cervical MRI on the day of the accident revealed conditions far more severe than the 2007 MRI. The new MRI showed significant changes at C4-5 and C6-7 with slight change at C5-6. The next week Tanner was screened at Heartland Neurosurgery and a week later was seen by Dr. Bedynek who offered a four-level neck fusion surgery. Tanner agreed with the surgical option and Dr. Bedynek performed the surgery October 24, 2010 at Heartland Hospital.
Tanner had original medical charges of $68,000 and missed approximately six weeks of work with an estimated lost income of $4,752. Tanner settled his claim against driver Donna Staggs for her policy coverage of $50,000 plus $100,000 from his own underinsured motorist coverage.