Case details

Plaintiff claimed collision caused back injury





Result type

Not present

chest, fracture, sternum
On Nov. 26, 2010, plaintiff Cathleen Couchois, 60, a daycare center owner, was traveling north in her vehicle on Century Park West in Los Angeles when she entered an intersection at Constellation Boulevard and was struck by a vehicle operated by Ariela Kozin, who was traveling east on Constellation Boulevard. Couchois claimed to her back, chest and both legs. Couchois sued Kozin, alleging that the defendant was negligent in the operation of her vehicle. Kozin initially contended that Couchois was speeding, but later conceded liability., Couchois presented to Cedars Sinai and underwent an MRI, which revealed a soft-tissue injury to the lumbar spine at the L3-4 level. She also sustained contusions to both legs. Several days later, her primary care physician discovered that Couchois had sustained a fracture to her sternum. Couchois did not undergo surgery, but she treated with a chiropractor and physical therapy for about one year after the accident, as well as received two epidural injections for temporary relief. Couchois claimed that she still has pain, for which she treats with mostly Advil. She alleged that after the accident, she had to learn how to interact differently with the children at the daycare center she works at. She also alleged that due to her back condition, she cannot pick things up, is stiff when she sits for long periods of time, and cannot sleep in a comfortable position. Couchois also alleged that her physical relationship with her husband has been impacted as a result of her and that this has resulted in emotional issues. The plaintiff’s spinal surgery expert opined that Couchois would not only need one back surgery, but also require a second procedure after that. Thus, plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award Couchois $2 million in damages, $74,000 in past medical expenses and $420,000 in future medical expenses. Defense counsel argued that Couchois was not seriously injured in the accident. The defense’s spinal expert opined that Couchois should have healed by now and that any residual complaints should be treated by stretching. The expert also opined that there was no need for surgery and that any surgical recommendation would be reckless. The defense’s expert radiologist opined that there was no objective finding of an injury. However, plaintiff’s counsel noted that the defense’s radiologist conceded that the accident caused Couchois’ current pain.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Santa Monica, CA

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