Greer v. Buzgheia
Filed 7/5/06 Greer v. Buzgheia CA3
NOT TO BE PUBLISHED
California Rules of Court, rule 977(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 977(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 977.
IN THE COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
THIRD APPELLATE DISTRICT
JAMES ROBERT GREER,
Plaintiff and Respondent,
HOSSAM ALI BUZGHEIA,
Defendant and Appellant.
(Super. Ct. No. 01AS06618)
Defendant Hossam Ali Buzgheia appeals from a judgment and order denying judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) after a jury awarded plaintiff James Robert Greer, a total of $321,500 in damages arising from an automobile accident.
Defendant seeks a new trial or a reduction in the judgment on the following grounds: (1) the trial court erred in denying defendant's motion in limine to exclude evidence of the amount of medical costs billed to plaintiff in excess of those actually paid; (2) the trial court should have granted a posttrial reduction of the damage award to reflect a compromise of plaintiff's medical bills; (3) the trial court committed prejudicial error in limiting the testimony of plaintiff's accident reconstruction expert; and (4) the court abused its discretion in permitting plaintiff to call an undesignated medical expert. Finding no reversible error, we shall affirm the judgment.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Plaintiff was injured when defendant's pickup truck ran a red light and collided with plaintiff's pickup truck as plaintiff was making a Uâ€‘turn on Folsom Boulevard in Sacramento. Soon after the accident, plaintiff complained of low back pain with radiation to his spine and hips. Plaintiff attempted to return to his job as a DSL lineman for SBC Advanced Solutions, Inc. (SBC) but could not perform his duties without experiencing severe pain.
One year after the accident, plaintiff returned to work part time with the aid of pain injections, but this was unsuccessful, and his doctor declared him unable to return to work at his former occupation.
Two MRI scans, taken about 15 months apart, revealed that plaintiff had suffered a degenerative disk disruption or tear, with accompanying nerve damage. When the pain did not significantly subside, plaintiff underwent spinal fusion surgery whereby the damaged disk tissue at the L5-S1 spinal segment was removed and replaced with bone material.
Plaintiff filed a personal injury complaint against defendant. Plaintiff's employer, SBC, filed its own complaint to recover approximately $30,000 in medical and disability benefits it paid on plaintiff's behalf. The two actions were consolidated by stipulation.
Shortly before the commencement of trial, SBC assigned all of its rights to plaintiff and filed notice that it would not be participating in the trial.
The most hotly disputed issue at trial was whether the severe back problems plaintiff experienced after the accident were attributable to it. Plaintiff presented expert medical testimony that, while he may have had some preexisting spinal degeneration, his current condition was directly related to the trauma he suffered as a result of the accident. Defendant's medical expert testified that plaintiff â€