Case details

Plaintiff claimed crash caused lumbar herniation/bulge





Result type

Not present

back, bulging disc, head, headaches neck, herniated disc, impairment, lower back, lumbar, neck, neurological, radicular pain, radiculitis, sensory, speech, vision, whiplash elbow
On Sept. 18, 2008, at approximately 7:25 a.m., plaintiff Julian Arredondo, 25, a college student, was traveling on eastbound West Floral Drive in a 2005 Toyota Corolla, intending to pass through the intersection formed by the entrance to the parking lot of East Los Angeles College and West Floral Drive. At the same time, Michael Keys was traveling on westbound West Floral Drive in a 2005 Ford SEL vehicle when he attempted to turn left into the parking lot of East Los Angeles College. As a result, the front, left driver’s side corner of the Keys vehicle made contact with the front left driver’s side corner of the Arredondo vehicle. Both cars were totaled in the accident. Arredondo claimed neck, shoulder and back , resulting in a partial left foot drop, as a result of the accident. Arredondo sued Michael Keys and the owner of Ford SEL vehicle, Michael Keys’ father, Steven Keys. Arredondo alleged that Michael Keys was negligent in the operation of the vehicle and that Steven Keys was vicariously liable for his son’s actions, as Michael Keys operated the vehicle with his father’s express permission. Specifically, Arredondo contended that Michael Keys failed to yield the right of way before executing his left turn. Michael Keys vigorously contented that he had the right of way and that Arredondo was the sole cause of the accident. He testified that he came to a stop in the left turn pocket, waited until it was clear to make the left turn, and then proceeded to do so when his vehicle was struck by Arredondo’s vehicle as Arredondo passed through the intersection. Thus, Keys testified that he had the right of way to make his left turn., The impact of the collision caused Arredondo’s airbag to deploy and strike him in the head, face and upper body. An ambulance and fire paramedics arrived shortly after the accident and spoke with Arredondo, who denied any injury or pain. As a result, he did not receive any treatment at the scene. However, Arredondo later reported to the emergency room at White Memorial Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he was diagnosed with whiplash and pain to his middle and lower back, and left, non-dominant elbow pain. He was subsequently prescribed heat, stretching therapy, and ibuprofen, robaxin and vicodin for the pain and swelling. On Sept. 19, 2008, Arredondo reported to a chiropractor with complaints of ongoing headaches; pain over the front and top of his head; bilateral swelling to the top of his shoulders and shoulder blades; radiating pain to his neck, left arm, left elbow, chest and lower back; and pain radiating to his buttocks. He was subsequently diagnosed with a lumbar rupture or herniation at the L4-5 level, and was told that he would require two more months of treatment and pain management consultation. On Oct. 14, 2008, Arredondo reported for another orthopedic consultation and was diagnosed with ongoing pain, limited range of motion, tenderness, and strains to cervical, thoracic and lumbar regions, as well as pain radiating to his extremities. On the advice of this chiropractor, Arredondo reported for MRIs on Oct. 22, 2008, and was diagnosed with a 2-3-millimeter disc bulge at L4-5, as well as mild neural foraminal narrowing on the left side of his lumbar spine. Arredondo then continued with a few months of conservative treatment until he presented to his treating physician, a board-certified orthopedist, who concluded that Arredondo would require epidural injections to control, and hopefully resolve, his ongoing intense lower back pain. This physician also suspected that Arredondo had a left foot drop, which he related to the accident due to the compression on Arredondo’s lumbar spine. After four to five months, Arredondo underwent three epidural injections that partially resolved his left foot drop, but he claimed that he was left with mid- and low-back pain and occasional pain down his left leg. Arredondo’s three epidural injections totaled $16,000. Plaintiff’s counsel noted that because of the judge’s interpretation of Howell and Corenbaum, defense counsel was allowed to introduce evidence of the $16,400 medical services lien being purchased for $2,400. Thus, the parties stipulated that the $2,400 amount paid for the $16,400 worth of injections, which the jury was allowed to hear. As a result, the judge allowed plaintiff’s counsel to argue about reasonable costs of medical services. Defense counsel argued that Arredondo’s medical care was overblown and attorney-generated. Defense counsel contended that Arredondo retained counsel the day after the accident and that all his referrals, other than to the emergency room, were attorney generated, which was true. Counsel also contended that after Arredondo’s initial chiropractic treatment and orthopedic exam, 10 months passed without any treatment, at which time his attorney referred him to his treating spinal surgeon in February 2010. Counsel further contended that at that time, the plaintiff’s treating spinal surgeon recommended lumbar epidural injections, but that Arredondo only had three injections between March 2010 and August 2010, one year and six months past the accident date. The defense’s expert neuroradiologist testified that all of Arredondo’s imaging studies were pristine and age appropriate, showing no signs of injury or nerve compression. The defense’s spine surgery expert testified that he performed a medical examination of Arredondo, but he could find no evidence or signs of any residual physical injury or impairment to Arredondo that would have been caused by the accident. The expert conceded that the accident caused Arredondo some minor and temporary muscle strains and sprains, but opined that these would have resolved within three or four weeks of chiropractic care. Thus, the expert opined that all other medical treatment Arredondo received was exaggerated, unnecessary, unreasonable and not related to the accident.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Pasadena, CA

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