Case details

Crash caused ongoing cervical and lumbar pain, plaintiff alleged





Result type

Not present

back, bulging disc, cervical, lower back, lumbar, neck, upper
On Sept. 15, 2012, between 12 noon to 1 p.m., plaintiff Ashlee Arden was operating her 2007 Audi A5 in the number one, or fast, lane of southbound Pacific Avenue in Venice. The posted speed limit was 35 miles per hour. As she entered the intersection with Brooks Avenue on green traffic light, John Castle, who was driving on northbound Pacific Avenue, attempted to make a left turn onto Brooks Avenue. As a result, the left, front portion of Arden’s vehicle struck the right, front fender and wheel well of Castle’s vehicle. Arden’s vehicle then careened off of Castle’s vehicle, stuck a light post and knocked it over, and then struck a brick wall. The matter was investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department, and both Arden’s 2007 Audi A5 and Castle’s vehicle were declared a total loss. Arden claimed the accident caused of her upper and lower back. Arden sued the driver of the other vehicle, John Castle, and the owner of John Castle’s vehicle, Russell Castle. Arden alleged that John Castle was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that Russell Castle was vicariously liable for John Castle’s actions. Specifically, Arden claimed that as she entered the intersection on a green traffic light, Castle made a sudden and abrupt left turn directly into the path of her vehicle, causing the crash. While the defendants did not initially admit liability, they ultimately agreed to stipulate, immediately prior to the commencement of the trial, that John Castle was negligent in the operation of his motor vehicle at the time of the subject incident. The parties also entered into a stipulation that Arden was not negligent in the operation of her motor vehicle and that John Castle’s negligence was a cause of Arden’s and damages., Arden claimed she sustained bulging cervical and lumbar discs, resulting in ongoing pain to her neck, back and right shoulder. While at the scene of the incident, paramedics spoke with Arden, who complained of pain and discomfort in her chest, and upper and lower back. The paramedics inquired as to whether or not she needed to be transported to an emergency facility, but Arden declined, stating that she would seek her own medical treatment. After remaining at the scene of the incident, Arden returned to her apartment in Santa Monica. The following day, her mother arrived and immediately took Arden to the emergency room at St. John’s Hospital, in Santa Monica, for assessment and treatment of the she sustained in the accident. While in the emergency room, she provided the doctors with a history of what had transpired regarding the broadside-type collision. Arden’s chief complaints to the doctors consisted of difficulty breathing, as well as neck and lower back pain. She was subsequently examined, given X-rays, and given a prescription for pain medication. She was also told to follow up with her primary health care provider. Shortly after the incident, Arden left her residence and moved in with her parents in San Dimas, where she remained until she sought further medical care and treatment on Sept. 27, 2012. Arden was examined by two physicians at the Inland Valley Rehabilitation and Chiropractic Center, in Chino. She provided the doctors with a history of what had occurred in the automobile accident and on her first visit to the facility, she complained of pain to her neck, upper and lower back, right arm, right shoulder, and basically throughout her entire right side of her body. As a result, she received approximately 18 sessions of physical therapy and chiropractic treatment at the facility. On Oct. 15, 2012, Arden underwent an MRI of her cervical and lumbar spine. She then presented to an orthopedic surgeon on Oct. 30, 2012, in order to review the MRIs previously taken and determine what type of medical care and/or treatment could be provided. At the meeting, Arden was advised that she had two bulging cervical discs and two bulging lumbar discs. In October 2012, Arden began receiving physical therapy at Team Physical Therapy, in Rancho Cucamonga. She then continued treatment until on or about Feb. 11, 2013, when she first presented to her treating pain management expert. The treating physician noted that Arden was still complaining of continued pain and discomfort in her cervical and lumbar spine. As a result, Arden received several trigger point injections into her cervical spine and shoulder area, as well as made the necessary arrangements to have a series of epidural injections into her lumbar spine. On Feb. 20, 2013, Arden received her first epidural injection into her lumbar spine. She claimed it appeared that the epidural injection was providing some relief, so she arranged to have a second epidural injection, which was performed on May 1, 2013. She claimed that, once again, the epidural injection into her lumbar spine appeared to be somewhat beneficial in relieving her of some pain. However, she claimed that by the time she returned to her treating pain management physician on May 28, 2014, it appeared that the epidural was wearing off, as she again complained of continuing pain and discomfort in her cervical and lumbar spine. As a result, arrangements were made for follow-up examinations in June 2014 and again on Oct. 20, 2014. It was ultimately determined that Arden needed an additional series of epidural injections, and she underwent a trigger point injection into her cervical spine and right shoulder area. The plaintiff’s treating pain management physician testified about his treatment of Arden, as well as about the benefits and risks of epidural injections into both the cervical and lumbar spine. On Oct. 20, 2014, Arden was seen by her treating orthopedic surgery expert, who ordered a second series of MRIs of the cervical and lumbar spine. Arden followed-up with the surgeon on Oct. 24, 2014, and was told that, based upon the findings contained in the physical examination and MRIs of the cervical and lumbar spine, she requires surgical intervention. The orthopedic surgery expert opined that Arden will need a series of epidural injections into her lumbar spine, possibly once every 18 months, until they no longer provide her with any relief from her pain and discomfort. The expert also recommended that Arden undergo a discectomy of her lumbar spine. In addition, the plaintiff’s treating orthopedic expert opined that, based upon Arden’s cervical and deteriorating condition, Arden will eventually require surgery on her cervical spine. Arden claimed she received an invoice for services rendered from St. John’s Hospital in the amount of $2,759, an invoice from the E.R. physicians in the amount of $818, and two additional invoices from the hospital in the amounts of $600 for the X-rays and $142 for lab work. She also claimed she incurred an invoice for services rendered in the amount of $4,400 for the two MRI films. Thus, Arden sought recovery of $51,383 for her past medical expenses. She also sought recovery for her future medical costs and for damages for her past and future pain and suffering. The defense’s expert orthopedic surgeon testified that based upon his medical examination of Arden, his review of the pertinent medical records from St. John’s Hospital, the records of the previous physicians, and Arden’s records from her treating physicians and experts, Arden had fully recovered from any allegedly sustained in the subject incident. The defense expert also opined that no further orthopedic care was required for Arden.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Chatsworth, CA

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