Case details

Back injury not caused by rear-end collision, defense argued





Result type

Not present

back, fusion, herniated disc, herniated lumbar discs, lower back, lumbar, neurological, radiculopathy
On Sept. 12, 2011, plaintiff Daysi Del Carmen Ramirez, 40, was driving on Pacific Avenue, in Glendale, when she came to a stop near an intersection and was rear-ended by a vehicle operated by Nerses Abouchian. Ramirez claimed she injured her lower back. Ramirez sued the driver, Nerses Abouchian, and the vehicle’s owner, Marine Abouchian. Ramirez alleged that Nerses Abouchian was negligent in the operation of her vehicle and that Marine Abouchian was vicariously liable for the driver’s actions. Ramirez claimed that as she came to a stop near the intersection to allow pedestrians to cross the street, a vehicle operated by Nerses Abouchian impacted the rear of her vehicle. Thus, Ramirez claimed that Nerses Abouchian failed to keep a proper lookout and failed to avoid the collision. Nerses and Marine Abouchian conceded liability, and the trial proceeded on the issue of Ramirez’ alleged damages., Ramirez complained of pain in her lower back and was subsequently taken by ambulance to a local emergency room, where she underwent X-rays and was discharged with instructions to follow up with an orthopedist. Ramirez was ultimately diagnosed with herniated lumbar discs at the L4-5, and L5-S1 levels. She also claimed radiculopathy from her lower back down into her left leg. Ramirez received three epidural injections and two facet injections. In 2015, she underwent a transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion at L4-5 and L5-S1 with two rods and screws implanted, and decompression surgery at the L4-5 and L5-S1. Ramirez claimed that despite the surgery, she continues to suffer residual pain and limitations in performing activities of daily living. The plaintiff’s radiology expert treating orthopedic surgeon both opined that Ramirez’s were related to the accident. The treating orthopedist also opined that the surgery was necessary, and recommended that Ramirez undergo a future lumbar surgery and additional facet injections. Plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award Ramirez $1.2 million in total damages, including $326,370 in past medical costs, $360,000 for future medical costs, and an unspecified amount of damages for Ramirez’s past and future pain and suffering. The defense’s expert orthopedist opined that the MRI imaging revealed that there was no neurocompression on any of Ramirez’s spinal discs and that there was no need for surgery. He also opined that Ramirez’s lumbar surgery was only 60 percent successful, which indicated that it was unnecessary. In addition, the expert opined that the spinal complaints were degenerative, pre-existing conditions that were not related to the collision.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Pasadena, CA

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