Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the
Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 568615 Honorable
Michael Pitman, Judge
HOOD, JR. CHRISTOPHER C. BROUGHTON Counsel for Appellant
WINCHELL & JOSEPH, L.L.C. By: Curtis R. Joseph, Jr.
Counsel for Appellees
WILLIAMS, MOORE, and McCALLUM, JJ.
plaintiff, Shelley Cooley, appeals a judgment awarding her
$50, 000 in general damages against the defendants, Timothy
Adgate and the City of Shreveport. The trial court declined
to award any amount for future medical expenses, finding that
the evidence of such expenses was too speculative. For the
following reasons, we amend the judgment to award future
medical expenses and affirm as amended.
November 2, 2012, a collision occurred when the vehicle
driven by Shelley Cooley was hit from the rear by a vehicle
driven by Timothy Adgate, an employee of the City of
Shreveport. Following the accident, Cooley sought medical
treatment for pain in her neck, back and right knee.
2013, the plaintiff, Shelley Cooley, filed a petition for
damages against the defendants, Timothy Adgate and the City
of Shreveport. The parties stipulated that the City was
liable because Adgate was solely at fault in causing the
accident while in the course and scope of his employment as a
police officer. As a result, the issue for trial was the
quantum of damages.
trial, the evidence showed that prior to the accident, Cooley
had undergone lumbar surgery in 1999 and afterward had
suffered from chronic, intermittent back pain. In 2011,
Cooley saw Dr. Anthony Stuart regarding gastric bypass
surgery, which was performed in June 2011. In treating
Cooley, Dr. Stuart did not prescribe any medication for back
or knee pain. After the November 2012 accident, Cooley sought
treatment for neck, back and right knee pain. In December
2012 and January 2013, she saw Dr. Kamm with a complaint of
low back pain radiating to her hip. Dr. Kamm prescribed
anti-inflammatory and pain medication. In February 2013,
Cooley was seen by Dr. Acurio at Orthopedic Specialists of
Louisiana for back pain radiating to her left leg. In May
2013, Cooley received a steroid injection at Schumpert First
Care. In June 2013, she underwent a lumbar MRI showing disk
bulges and herniation at several levels. In that same month,
Cooley saw Dr. Clinton McAlister with back pain radiating to
her right leg. Dr. McAlister ordered a bilateral L5 selective
nerve root block. During 2013 and 2014, Cooley continued to
seek treatment for back pain radiating to both legs and she
received additional nerve root blocks.
2015, Cooley saw Dr. Kerr at the Spine Institute of Louisiana
with a complaint of chronic low back pain radiating to her
legs. Dr. Kerr ordered another lumbar MRI, which showed a
disk herniation at L5-S1 contacting the nerve root. Dr. Kerr
determined that Cooley's continued back pain was caused
by the ruptured disk at L5-S1 and nerve root compression. In
September 2015, Dr. Kerr ordered bilateral facet joint
injections. In May 2016, Cooley saw Dr. John Noles, a
specialist in pain management. Dr. Noles diagnosed Cooley
with lumbar spondylosis (degeneration of the spine) and
lumbar facet arthropathy. Dr. Noles performed a nerve
rhizotomy, which involves burning the sensory nerve to the
facet joints in an effort to relieve pain. The evidence
showed that since the accident in November 2012, Cooley has
had 5 nerve root blocks, 2 lumbar MRIs, 2 bilateral facet
joint injections and 4 rhizotomy procedures.
was the only witness who testified at trial. The medical
testimony was presented through the depositions of Dr.
Clinton McAlister, Dr. Eubulus Kerr, Dr. John Noles, Dr.
Anthony Stuart and Dr. Bharat Guthikonda. After taking the
matter under advisement, the trial court issued oral reasons
for judgment finding that the accident had exacerbated
Cooley's pre-existing back problems and required medical
treatment for her back pain. However, the court found that
the evidence regarding the need for future medical care due
to the accident was speculative and declined to award any
amount for future medical expenses. The trial court rendered
judgment awarding Cooley $79, 508.66 for past medical
expenses and $50, 000 in general damages. Cooley appeals the
contends the trial court erred in awarding $50, 000 in
general damages. Cooley argues that the award should be
increased because the evidence shows that the accident caused
the injuries for which she ...