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Physical Therapy Session Results in Aggravation of Longstanding Neck Injuries


On July 11, 2005, our client, now 54 years old, presented to Jacobi Medical Center’s outpatient physical therapy department, for outpatient physical therapy as a result of a recent right ankle fracture. During the course of his physical therapy session, the physical therapist instructed our client to ride a stationary bike for ten minutes and then to dismount the bike and proceed to the next exercise. After completing his therapy on the stationary bike, our client attempted to dismount as instructed. As he was dismounting the stationary bike, the stationary bike tipped over causing him to fall backwards onto the floor, with the stationary bike falling on top of him.

Our firm argued that the defendant was negligent in failing to supervise and assist him while dismounting the stationary bike as he was unable to dismount the stationary bike safely due to poor balance as a result of his right ankle fracture.

The defendants argued that pour client was specifically instructed not to dismount the stationary bike without the physical therapist being present so the physical therapist could help him dismount. The defendants argued that our client failed to follow the specific instructions given by the physical therapist and, as a result, he was solely responsible for the happening of the accident.

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Plaintiff suffered from a degenerative condition of his cervical spine that existed prior to the accident. In the twenty- five (25) years prior to the accident, Plaintiff underwent four (4) surgeries to his cervical spine, including a cervical fusion at C5-C7 in 1980, a cervical diskectomy at C4-C5 in 1987, a cervical laminectomy at C3-C7 in 1992 and a cervical discectomy and fusion at C3-C4 in 1994.

As a result of the July 11, 2005 accident at Jacobi Medical Center, Plaintiff suffered a fracture/dislocation of the prior C4-C5 fusion. As a result, Plaintiff underwent an anterior cervical fusion at C4-C5 and posterior cervical fusion at C3-C7, the same levels where Plaintiff had previously undergone multiple surgical procedures before the accident.

Following surgery, Plaintiff underwent a course of physical therapy. Following a course of physical therapy Plaintiff was instructed to perform home exercises and to follow up for medical care on an as needed basis. Plaintiff was discharged from any further medical care and treatment in December 2008.

As a result of the accident, Plaintiff suffered a worsening of his pre-existing neck and left shoulder pain and a worsening of his pre-existing spastic quadriparesis.

Plaintiff did not make any claim for past or future lost earnings. Plaintiff did not make a claim that he required any ongoing medical care and treatment.

Defendants claimed that Plaintiff’s condition was the result of an ongoing progressive degenerative condition of his cervical spine and that Plaintiff’s surgeries were related to his pre-existing condition and not related to the accident of July 11, 2005.


The matter settled for $1,490,000 right before trial. The case was handled by Attorney S. Joseph Donahue.

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