July 2, 2007
RAMONA REYES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
SHANTOLAY M. CLEGG, SHERRY R. SMITH, AND RAMON O. REYES, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Cumberland County, L-635-05.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted June 19, 2007
Before Judges Stern and Coburn.
In this personal injury automobile accident case, plaintiff, Ramona Reyes, appeals from a summary judgment dismissing her complaint on the ground that she failed to meet the verbal threshold of N.J.S.A. 39:6A-8(a).
After carefully considering the record and briefs, we affirm substantially for the reasons expressed by Judge Bowen in his oral opinion of April 12, 2006. We add the following comments.
The accident occurred in the fall of 2003, and the initial hospital diagnosis on the day of the accident was "strain of the neck" and "strain of the back." X-rays taken that day of plaintiff's neck and back were essentially normal. A lumbar MRI performed about a week after the accident was also normal. Plaintiff's own doctor referred her to Dr. Gregory Maslow, an orthopedist. He concluded that plaintiff sustained "1) cervical sprain; 2) lumbar sprain; [and] 3) right knee contusion or sprain." Although at some point during treatment an EMG indicated right L5 radiculopathy, the findings were neither acute nor chronic, and the physician performing the EMG did not relate his findings to the accident. Her last physical examination was performed by Dr. Maslow, who said that plaintiff reported "marked improvement and she says that she has a little pain at the present time." He found that plaintiff's range of motion was "very good" and that she had "no tenderness on exam, no spasm." Although the referring physician had made earlier findings that tended to support plaintiff's claim of a permanent injury, the plaintiff's ultimate status was established on her last visit with Dr. Maslow, who was her physician.
Consequently, we see no basis for disturbing the ruling made by Judge Bowen.
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