Mon 4th Mar | 2013

Thrasher vs. GEICO Verdict Profiled on

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Plaintiff: Accidents aggravated preexisting back & neck injuries

Verdict (P) $400,000

Case Sondra Thrasher v. Richard Hawald, Brice De La Cerda and Geico Insurance Company, No. 502008CA001414

Court Palm Beach County Circuit Court, 15th

Judge Janis Brustares Keyser

Date 2/13/2013

Plaintiff Attorney(s)

David C. Prather, Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Littky-Rubin & Whitman, Florida, FL

Defense Attorney(s)

None reported (Brice De La Cerda, Richard Hawald)

Michael A. Robb, Clark Robb Mason Coulombe and Buschman P.A., Coral Springs, FL (Geico Insurance Company)

Facts & Allegations

On March 6, 2006, plaintiff Sondra Thrasher, 24, a student, was driving a sedan on Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach when she was rear-ended by Richard Hawald. Thrasher claimed that she injured her neck and back.

Thrasher sued Hawald, claiming that he was negligent in the operation of his vehicle. Hawald was uninsured. Thrasher made a claim against her uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance carrier, Geico Insurance Co.

On Feb. 10, 2008, Thrasher was driving a sport utility vehicle on Haverhill Road in Florida when a sedan driven by Brice De La Cerda violated her right of way, causing her to broadside him. Thrasher claimed that she injured her neck and back. Thrasher sued De la Cerda claiming that he was negligent in the operation of his vehicle. De La Cerda was uninsured. Thrasher made another claim against Geico. Her insurer conceded that Hawald and De La Cerda were negligent.

Thrasher claimed that Geico refused to pay for damages she allegedly sustained in the accidents.


aggravation of pre-existing condition; herniated disc at L4-5; herniated disc at L5-S1; bulging disc, cervical; percutaneous discectomy; epidural injections; physical therapy

Thrasher claimed that both accidents aggravated pre-existing neck and back injuries: a herniated disc at L4-5 and bulging discs at C3-4 through C6-7. In June 2007, Thrasher underwent a discogram and percutaneous discectomy. She also received two lumbar spinal epidural steroid injections. Thrasher also underwent a period of physical therapy. Thrasher claimed that her neurosurgeon recommended surgery to her lumbar spine and facet blocks to her cervical region.

Thrasher claimed that she was forced to withdraw from a college scholarship photography program because of her injuries. She claimed that she continues to have pain in her neck and back. She sought to recover damages for past and future medical costs; and past and future pain and suffering.

Geico claimed that Thrasher’s neck and back conditions were pre-existing and that she only suffered minor sprains and strains in each of the accidents. Geico also claimed that Thrasher’s medical bills were unreasonable, excessive and unrelated to the accidents.


The jury rendered a verdict for the plaintiff, ruling that both accidents were a legal cause of injury to the plaintiff. The jury awarded the plaintiff $400,000.


Sondra Thrasher

$60,000 past medical cost

$30,000 future medical cost

$50,000 past pain and suffering

$260,000 future pain and suffering

$400,000 plaintiff’s total award

Demand None reported

Offer $40,000


Self-insured for Geico Insurance Company

Trial Details

Trial Length: 6 Days

Jury Deliberations: 5 Hours

Jury Poll: None reported

Jury Composition: None reported

Plaintiff Expert(s)

Jane Bistline, M.D., pain management, Florida, FL (David C. Prather)

Charles Theolofis, M.D., neurosurgery, Orlando, FL ( David C. Prather)

Brian Young, neuroradiology, Palm Beach, FL ( David C. Prather)

Defense Expert(s)

Jordan C. Grabel, M.D., neurosurgery, Florida, FL (Michael A. Robb)

Michael S. Zeide, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Lake Worth, FL (Michael A. Robb)


Defense counsel filed a motion for a new trial.

Editor’s Note

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff’s and defense counsel.

Plaintiff(s) Demographics

Sondra Thrasher

Age: 24 Years

Occupation: student

Gender: Female

Married: None reported

Children: None reported

Children Description: injured party

Written By –Gary Raynaldo