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06/29/87 Gordon v. Lewis

June 29, 1987

GORDON

v.

LEWIS, JR., PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

MARK E. JONES, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE

THIS ACTION WAS BROUGHT BY PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT, GORDON

v.

LEWIS, JR. (REFERRED TO AS DONNY), AGAINST DEFENDANT-APPELLEE, MARK E. JONES (JONES), FOR DAMAGES RESULTING FROM AN AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT.



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, THIRD DISTRICT

510 N.E.2d 157, 157 Ill. App. 3d 327, 109 Ill. Dec. 536 1987.IL.930

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Peoria County; the Hon. Joseph B. McDade, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE SCOTT delivered the opinion of the court. BARRY, P.J., and STOUDER, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE SCOTT

Donny suffers from cerebral palsy. Although this condition does not impair his ability to think, read or remember, it does affect his speech and physical movements. The condition produces involuntary contractions of the muscles in Donny's body, causing spastic movements.

On August 13, 1982, Donny and a friend were involved in an automobile accident with Jones, in which Jones' car ran into the rear end of the vehicle Donny was driving. Donny's car was pushed forward, striking the car in front of him. The impact knocked Donny forward and he testified that his neck snapped and he jammed his wrist into the steering wheel. He also stated that he felt dizzy and thought he would get sick.

Donny was examined by emergency room physicians at Proctor Hospital in Peoria. Upon arrival, Donny testified that he had a bad headache and his neck, lower back, arm and left wrist were hurting. After X rays were taken, Donny was given medication and then went home with his parents. Donny later consulted Dr. Brooks twice within the following month for the injuries received.

On September 27, 1982, Donny was examined and placed under the care of Dr. Robert Downs, a chiropractor. Downs diagnosed a post-traumatic cervical injury resulting from hyperextension and hyperflexion. Downs thereafter saw Donny seven times in October, eight times in November, 12 times in December and eight times in January. He further received sporadic treatment from Dr. Downs until the following June of 1983.

During the time Donny saw Downs, he performed physical activity and he testified that the pain came and went. Also during this time, Donny fell down a flight of stairs while carrying a box, causing injury to his ankle. Dr. Downs opined that injuries resulting from the fall were unrelated to the prior automobile accident. At the Conclusion of the treatment, however, Dr. Downs expressed the opinion that Donny suffered from no substantial disability other than the preexisting cerebral palsy.

On November 11, 1983, Donny consulted Dr. Xuan Truong, a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation. A physical examination by Dr. Truong revealed tenderness over the low back, limitations in bending forward and pain on straight leg raising. Dr. Truong prescribed physical therapy. The parties differ as to the effectiveness of the therapy, but the evidence indicates that Donny's back pain improved. Dr. Truong released Donny from further inpatient treatments on April 27, 1984. Dr. Truong testified at trial that Donny's symptoms could be related to the accident in question and that the condition could be permanent.

On June 19, 1984, Donny broke his right arm when he fell down a stairway at his parents' house. Just before the fall, he felt a sudden sharp burning pain in his right leg and fell to his right side, striking his elbow. Donny was treated by Dr. Ed Smith, an orthopedic surgeon, for a fracture just above the elbow. Smith testified that people with normal balance usually do not fall regardless of muscle spasm attacks. Smith treated Donny's fractured elbow and found, at the time of the last visit, the range of motion in Donny's arm was functional. Donny then returned to St. Francis Clinic in Peoria for therapy and saw Dr. Barry Little.

Dr. Little saw Donny on July 20, 1984. Dr. Little stated that at the examination, Donny complained of significant lower back pain causing limited range of motion in his legs. Further, Donny's right arm had a wrist drop and he had limited range of motion when attempting to extend the elbow. Little testified that Donny's low back condition was secondary to the automobile accident and that the condition was aggravated by his cerebral palsy due to his distorted anatomy. There was no indication, however, that the cerebral palsy condition was aggravated as a result of the accident.

Dr. Little then referred Donny back to Dr. Truong at the Institute of Physical Medicine in Peoria for additional therapy to the right elbow. Dr. Truong testified that the fracture of the right elbow was not caused by or connected with the ...


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