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Martin v. Ramos

Court of Appeals of Indiana

February 28, 2019

David Martin, Appellant-Plaintiff,
v.
Jose Ramos, Appellee-Defendant.

          Appeal from the Allen Superior Court The Honorable Craig J. Bobay, Judge The Honorable Thomas P. Boyer, Magistrate Trial Court Cause No. 02D01-1801-SC-1548

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT David A. Singleton Chad E. Romey BLACKBURN & GREEN Fort Wayne, Indiana

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE Kelly A. Roth AMERICAN FAMILY INSURANCE LEGAL DEPARTMENT Indianapolis, Indiana

          BAILEY, JUDGE.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] David Martin ("Martin") filed a Notice of Claim in the Allen Superior Court Small Claims Division, alleging that he had sustained physical injuries in a vehicular collision with Jose Ramos ("Ramos"). The trial court found Ramos to be 100% at fault for the collision but denied Martin damages, concluding that Martin had not established causation. Martin filed a motion to correct error, which was denied, and he now appeals. We reverse and remand.

         Issues

         [¶2] Martin presents two restated issues for review:

I. Whether expert medical testimony is unnecessary in small claims proceedings designed to administer justice expediently; and
II. Whether the trial court misapplied the law in determining that Martin had not established causation.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶3] Martin filed a Notice of Claim on January 30, 2018. A bench trial was conducted on April 30, 2018 but it was not recorded. Pursuant to Indiana Appellate Rule 31, the trial court certified a Statement of Evidence.[1] We derive our recitation of facts from that Statement of Evidence, which provides in relevant part:

The Plaintiff testified that he was stopped while traveling on West Creighton Avenue in Fort Wayne, Indiana, when his vehicle was struck from the rear by a vehicle being driven by the Defendant, Jose Ramos.
Plaintiff further testified that he received treatment as a result of the collision at Lutheran Hospital, where he complained of pain in the following areas:
a. at the base of the left side of the skull;
b. along the left side of his neck;
c. in the center of his neck;
d. in the mid axillary region under his left arm; and
e. in his left shoulder.
He rated his pain as a seven (7) out of ten (10), with ten being the greatest amount of pain.
Plaintiff further testified that a CT scan of his cervical spine showed some preexisting conditions. He testified that he had experienced pain in his neck prior to the wreck, but the wreck caused increased pain for a period of time.
Prior to discharge from Lutheran Hospital, the Plaintiff had to be cleared by a neurosurgeon, Dr. Jeffrey Kachmann, because the CT scan of his head showed "left front post traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage."
Plaintiff was released from the hospital after agreeing that he was required to have someone with him at all times. Dr. Kachmann told the Plaintiff to be on guard for any possible neurological changes, including seizures, weakness, numbness, or tingling in the legs. Plaintiff ...

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