Case details

Plaintiff abruptly changed lanes prior to crash, defense claimed





Result type

Not present

annular tear, anxiety, back, bulging disc, cervical, emotional distress, head, headaches neck, insomnia, lower back, lumbar, mental, neck, neurological, psychological, radicular pain, radiculitis, stenosis
On Nov. 30, 2012, plaintiff Ray Kazemi, 53, an electronics sales manager, was driving on southbound Harbor Boulevard, in Garden Grove, when his 2012 Volkswagen Beetle was rear-ended by a 2003 Ford E-350 Econoline van operated by Bradley Messmer. Kazemi claimed to his neck and lower back. Kazemi sued Messmer and Messmer’s employer, Auto Buyline Systems, Inc. (doing business as ABS Auto Auctions). Kazemi alleged that Messmer was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that Auto Buyline Systems was liable for Messmer’s actions. Auto Buyline Systems was ultimately dismissed on a motion for summary judgment. Thus, the matter continued against Messmer only. Kazemi claimed that he was stopped in the number two (middle) lane when the collision occurred and pushed his vehicle into the intersection with 17th Street. Messmer contended that as he approached the intersection, he was traveling at 35 mph and his light was green. However, he alleged that when the light turned yellow, Kazemi, who was traveling in the number two lane, appeared as though he intended to proceed through the intersection, but then Messmer abruptly changed lanes from the number two (middle) lane to the number one (far left) lane and stopped. Messmer claimed he braked, but was unable to avoid colliding with Kazemi’s vehicle. Thus, he asserted that the accident was 100 percent Kazemi’s fault., Kazemi claimed the collision exacerbated his prior spinal , causing a herniated cervical disc and neuroforaminal stenosis and a mild central canal stenosis of the lumbar spine. No police report was filed, and neither party complained of any at the scene of the accident. At the time, Kazemi was traveling to a chiropractic appointment to treat an injury from a prior rear-end accident that had occurred on Oct. 15, 2012. Kazemi had filed a claim regarding that prior accident, during which he had alleged to his back and neck. That claim ultimately settled. However, following the November 2012 crash, Kazemi went to Garden Grove Hospital Medical Center, in Garden Grove, that same day and underwent a CT of the brain and CT lumbar spine. He was then treated by a pain management physician and had consultations following the subject accident. The plaintiff’s treating pain management expert prescribed physical therapy and eventually gave Kazemi several epidural injections to the lumbar spine, cervical facet blocks, and sacroiliac joint injections. Each set of injections cost in excess of $15,000. Kazemi also treated with three different chiropractors for approximately three months each over approximately two years. He was then sent to another chiropractor for further chiropractic treatment. During that time, Kazemi continued treating with his treating pain management physician and underwent cervical and lumbar MRIs. The MRIs revealed a broad-based, right protrusion of the C5-6 disc with severe central canal stenosis and neuroforaminal stenosis of the cervical spine, and 1- to 2-millimeter, left neuroforaminal stenosis and a mild central canal stenosis of the lumbar spine with the lumbar disc indenting the thecal sac. Thereafter, Kazemi underwent further epidural steroid injections and facet joint blocks in the cervical and lumbar spine from May 2013 to July 2013, less than a year after the accident. After the injections, Kazemi resumed chiropractic care from July 2013 to September 2013. Kazemi claimed that at the conclusion of the treatment, he had improved significantly. On Nov. 6, 2013, Kazemi followed up with his neurosurgery expert, who noted that Kazemi had reached maximum medical improvement. As a result, Kazemi continued doing home exercises and stretches to continue to maintain his condition. Kazemi claimed that his pain then became reduced, so he went untreated by any medical provider for over a year. However, he claimed his symptoms suddenly returned. As a result, Kazemi was seen by his treating pain management doctor, who gave him additional cervical epidural injections in June 2015, which were upwards of $10,000 each. After allegedly seeing no improvement, Kazemi underwent new MRIs for the cervical and lumbar spine, and then returned for a neurosurgical evaluation by his expert neurosurgeon. The expert reviewed Kazemi’s MRIs and determined that there was a moderate to severe central canal stenosis, and an annular tear and disc bulge at the L4-5 level, producing mild to moderate central canal compression and foraminal impingement. He also noted a 4-millimeter posterior disc protrusion in the cervical spine. The expert neurosurgeon testified that, to a reasonable degree of medical probability, Kazemi had suffered a disc herniation or an aggravation of the underlying degenerative spinal condition at the cervical level. The expert further testified that Kazemi’s condition led to the surgical intervention that consisted of a double-level cervical discectomy at C4-5 and C5-6 on Aug. 24, 2015 at Bay City Surgery Center, in Torrance, nearly three years after the accident, at a cost of over $150,000. Kazemi then completed post-operative physical therapy. Kazemi contended that his prior were exacerbated by the November 2012 accident, causing him to sustain a herniated cervical disc that required surgical intervention, and epidural and facet injections. He also contended that the aggravation to his neck and lower back resulted in radicular pain to both levels. In addition, he claimed the November 2012 crash caused him to suffer from headaches, insomnia, and emotional distress, including anxiety. The plaintiff’s neurosurgery expert opined that Kazemi would need a subsequent surgery due to inter-segmental degeneration at a cost of $360,000. The plaintiff’s neurosurgery expert opined that Kazemi suffered an injury to his neck and lower back from the prior accident and that the subject November 2012 accident exacerbated Kazemi’s pre-existing at both levels. Specifically, the expert opined that 90 percent of Kazemi’s cervical spine injury resulted from the subject accident and that 10 percent was from the prior accident. He further opined that 30 percent of Kazemi’s lower back injury was from the prior accident and that 70 percent was from the subject accident. Thus, Kazemi sought recovery of $353,114.50 in past medical costs, $360,000 in future medical costs, and an unspecified amount of non-economic damages for his pain and suffering. Defense counsel noted that Kazemi’s vehicle sustained no rear-end damage from the November 2012 accident and that the earlier, October 2012, accident caused the sprains and strains. Counsel also noted that Kazemi alleged headaches, and neck and lower back pain rated a 9/10, with the back pain radiating to the left, posterior thigh and affecting his left leg. The defense’s neurological expert opined that Kazemi recovered from the subject accident after approximately eight months and that as a result, Kazemi received unnecessary medical treatment by way of the lumbar epidural and cervical fact injections. He further testified that because Kazemi had already recovered, he does not require any future medical treatment.
Superior Court of Orange County, Orange, CA

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