Case details

Defense disputed plaintiff’s alleged need for surgery





Result type

Not present

back, cervical, disc protrusion, herniated disc, neck
On July 20, 2013, plaintiff Artavazd Hovhannisyan, 25, a stock clerk, was driving a 2013 Hyundai Genesis sedan on northbound Cahuenga Boulevard, in Hollywood, when it entered the intersection with Hollywood Boulevard and broadsided a 2011 Cadillac Escalade sport utility vehicle operated by Michael Abouhalaka, who was headed west on Hollywood Boulevard. Hovhannisyan claimed to his neck and back, and Abouhalaka claimed to his back. Hovhannisyan sued Abouhalaka and Abouhalaka’s employer, EmpireCLS Worldwide Chauffeured Services. (EmpireCLS’s prior company name, Empire International, and its prior operating name, Empire Chauffeur Services, were incorrectly named in the initial complaint.) Hovhannisyan alleged that Abouhalaka was negligent in the operation of his SUV and that EmpireCLS was vicariously liable for Abouhalaka’s actions. EmpireCLS Worldwide Chauffeured Services filed a counterclaim against Hovhannisyan, seeking recover for the property damage related to its Cadillac Escalade. Abouhalaka filed his own personal injury action against Hovhannisyan, alleging that Hovhannisyan was negligent in the operation of his car. On Oct. 14, 2015, the parties stipulated to consolidate Abouhalaka’s case with Hovhannisyan’s case and the related counterclaim. However, prior to trial, Hovhannisyan’s insurance carrier agreed to tender its $100,000 policy limits to settle Abouhalaka’s personal injury claim and pay $45,000 to settle EmpireCLS’s property damage claim. The matter continued with Hovhannisyan’s claims against Abouhalaka and EmpireCLS only. Hovhannisyan claimed Abouhalaka ran a red light, causing the collision in the middle of the intersection. Abouhalaka claimed Hovhannisyan jumped a red light approximately five seconds early, causing the accident. The traffic investigation was unable to determine fault due to conflicting statements. Causation was further complicated by the mechanical failure of the DriveCam video camera on Abouhalaka’s SUV., Hovhannisyan claimed the accident caused an 8 millimeter lumbar disc herniation at the L5-S1 level and a 2 to 3 millimeter cervical disc protrusion at the middle and lower regions. He received chiropractic treatment and three epidural injections for pain. Hovhannisyan claimed that his cervical pain resolved with conservative treatment, but that he continued to have pain in his lower back with numbness and pain in his lower extremities. He eventually underwent a microdiscectomy on his lumbar spine on May 13, 2014. Hovhannisyan claimed he was unable to work for approximately five years due to the pain in his lower back, neck and legs. He also claimed he was prevented from playing sports. The plaintiff’s treating orthopedic surgeon opined that Hovhannisyan requires a cervical discectomy, which would have significantly increase Hovhannisyan’s medical specials. Hovhannisyan sought recovery of $1,830,585 in total damages at trial. Defense counsel argued that Hovhannisyan’s lumbar disc herniation was pre-existing, that it resolved after treating with chiropractic care and that the microdiscectomy was not related to the accident. Defense counsel also disputed the amounts of Hovhannisyan’s alleged past and future medical costs. The defense noted that plaintiff’s counsel never presented several medical specials, such as evidence showing the cost of MRI’s and X-rays, and that despite the plaintiff’s treating orthopedic surgeon’s recommendation that Hovhannisyan undergo a cervical discectomy, Hovhannisyan did not go forward with the procedure.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Santa Monica, CA

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