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Orange County

This action arose from a collision to the rear of the plaintiff’s vehicle by a tractor-trailer owned by the defendant Ryder Truck Rental, operated by the defendant U.S. Food service, Inc., and driven by the defendant truck driver. The plaintiff claimed she was slowing to allow another vehicle to change lanes in front of her, when the accident occurred. The defendants maintained that a phantom vehicle changed lanes in front of the plaintiff’s van, causing her to make a sudden stop which resulted in the rear end collision. The defendant also disputed the injuries which the plaintiff claimed to have sustained as a result of the accident.

The plaintiff, 53 at the time of the accident, testified she was exiting the Florida Turnpike onto Route ________ when another vehicle changed lanes in front of her. The plaintiff testified she slowed to allow entrance of the other vehicle and her van was impacted from behind by the defendant’s tractor-trailer. Evidence showed that the defendant’s tractor-trailer left ________ feet of skid marks at the scene. The property damage to the back of the plaintiff’s van was $________. The front of the defendant’s truck sustained approximately $________ in damage.

The plaintiff treated with a chiropractor for injuries to her cervical spine. Her chiropractor testified that an MRI showed two protruding discs which he opined were causally related to the accident. The plaintiff also treated with a neurologist and pain management specialist for radiating cervical pain.

The plaintiff’s psychiatrist testified the plaintiff sustained posttraumatic stress disorder as a result of the accident and will require continuing psychiatric treatment. The plaintiff claimed her accident-related cervical injuries caused her to be terminated from her job as an optical technician with a vision center after she missed more than six months from work. The plaintiff had not returned to work as of the date of trial. She claimed approximately $________ in total economic damages.

The defendant truck driver testified the plaintiff stopped suddenly and unnecessarily in the middle of the exit to allow a truck to get in front of her. The defense contended the defendant truck driver could not avoid the collision.

The defendant’s orthopedic surgeon testified the plaintiff’s cervical disc bulges were related to a long-standing degenerative condition of the cervical spine and not caused by the accident. The defendant’s psychiatrist testified the plaintiff did not suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder. This expert testified the plaintiff exhibited clinical depression unrelated to the accident and also that she exaggerated and magnified her psychological condition. The defense argued that the plaintiff could return to work, if she so desired.

The court directed a verdict for the plaintiff on liability at the close of evidence. The jury found the plaintiff sustained a permanent injury as a result of the accident and awarded her $________ in damages.

The defendant’s motion for new trial and additur is pending.

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