Case details

Defense claimed there was no objective findings of alleged pain





Result type

Not present

back, closed head injury, face, facet syndrome, head, headaches, neck, temporomandibular joint, TMJ
On March 5, 2012, plaintiff Monique Morrison, 30, a self-employed massage therapist, was operating her Toyota Prius on South La Cienega Boulevard, in Los Angeles. As she entered the intersection with Horner Street, the front, left corner of her vehicle collided with the driver’s side of a BMW operated by Courtney Falsey, who was proceeding from a stop sign on Horner Street. Morrison claimed to her face, head and neck. Morrison sued Falsey. Morrison claimed that Falsey was negligent in the operation of her BMW and failed to yield the right of way. Falsey claimed there was a large truck blocking her view prior to the accident. Thus, she claimed that as she inched toward the intersection, she was struck Morrison’s Prius., Morrison claimed she struck her head against the driver’s side windshield during the accident. She did not seek emergency treatment at the scene. However, the next day, Morrison presented to her primary care physician with complaints of neck pain and headaches. Morrison claimed she sustained a closed head injury and cervical facet syndrome. She also claimed that she developed temporomandibular joint pain a few months after the accident that her head injury resulted in post-concussion syndrome. Morrison underwent numerous MRIs and electrodiagnostics, and she treated her with massage therapy, acupuncture and physical therapy. The plaintiff’s treating pain management specialist testified that, based on Morrison’s recollection of striking her face inside the vehicle, he opined that Morrison had TMJ. Morrison claimed that she suffers constant headaches and that her continued neck pain prevents her from working as a massage therapist, as she could no longer use her arm movement and strength to administer the massages. She alleged that she had gone on tour with a performer, whom she provided massages, but that she had to cut the tour short because she could no longer work as a massage therapist. Morrison further claimed that she was recommended injections of a steroid-based painkiller to treat her continued neck pain. Thus, Morrison sought recovery for her medical expenses, loss of future earning capacity, and past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel argued that there was no indication that Morrison struck her jaw and that Morrison did not complain of jaw pain when she went to a dentist in August 2012. Counsel contended that it was not until November 2012 that Morrison claimed she had TMJ issues. The defense’s expert orthopedic surgeon pointed out the numerous MRIs and electrodiagnostics, including a brain MRI, that Morrison had undergone. The expert also noted that although Morrison complained of pain to every physician she saw, including a neurologist and an otolaryngologist, none of the physicians noted any objective findings in her medical record to support Morrison’s subjective claims. He also noted that the plaintiff’s own treating pain management specialist and dentist found no objective findings. Thus, the defense’s expert opined that, at most, Morrison sustained a sprain and/or strain of her neck, which should have resolved a few weeks after the accident.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA

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