Simeonidis v. Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise
A plaintiff who suffers from a preexisting disability that is made worse by an injury can recover only to the extent of the aggravation of the injury. In July 2010, the plaintiff, Joanne Simeonidis, underwent magnetic resonance imaging and was diagnosed with a disc extrusion and severe central stenosis. Later that month Simeonidis went to Foxwoods Casino to celebrate the successful completion of physical therapy. Simeonidis allegedly sat in a chair that jiggled and then was injured when the chair suddenly gave way. Simeonidis took an ambulance to the hospital, and doctors prescribed pain medicine and muscle relaxers. In August, Simeonidis underwent magnetic resonance imaging that indicated that in addition to the disc herniation seen on the earlier magnetic resonance imaging she also had synovial cysts. In October, Simeonidis slipped and experienced low back pain. In February 2011, Simeonidis underwent spinal fusion surgery. The defendant, the Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise, conceded it was legally responsible and argued that Simeonidis was contributorily negligent, because she allegedly did not take safety precautions, although she knew that the chair was wobbly. Expert witnesses disputed whether Simeonidis had a cyst prior to July 2010. Dr. Girasole opined that the July 2010 injury expedited the need for surgery, but could not state with a reasonable degree of medical certainty that Simeonidis required surgery based on the incident at Foxwoods. "A plaintiff who suffers from a preexisting disability that is made worse by an injury . . . can recover only to the extent of the aggravation of the injury," pursuant to Tuite v. Stop and Shop, a 1997 decision. Simeonidis established that a pre-existing disability was aggravated when she was injured at Foxwoods. Although Simeonidis was entitled to recover for medical treatment, physical therapy and injections between July 2010 and February 2011, she was not entitled to compensation for spinal fusion surgery. The court awarded economic damages of $13,329 and damages, for pain and suffering, in the amount of $26,659.