Case details

Plaintiff claimed crash caused need for pain management





Result type

Not present

back, lumbar facet injury
On Dec. 18, 2017, plaintiff Keonnii Ashman, 28, a cybersecurity professional, was driving west on Roscoe Boulevard, in Los Angeles. As she entered the intersection with Winnetka Avenue, the front, passenger side of her compact vehicle struck the rear of a midsize sedan operated by Fred Weiss, who was making a left turn from eastbound Roscoe Boulevard onto Winnetka Avenue. Ashman claimed to her back. Ashman sued Weiss, alleging that Weiss was negligent in the operation of his vehicle. According to plaintiff’s counsel, Weiss was impeached at trial when he claimed he was wearing his regular glasses at the time of the accident even though Ashman had a cell phone picture of Weiss wearing his sunglasses at the scene. Counsel also noted that Weiss initially stated at trial that the color of the light when he entered the intersection was red, but then said it was green. In addition, plaintiff’s counsel noted that Weiss admitted in deposition that the vehicle in front of him was making a left turn also. Accordingly, plaintiff’s counsel argued that Weiss failed to stop and yield at a red light and that, instead, Weiss failed to yield to oncoming traffic and made a left turn in front of Ashman, causing the crash. Defense counsel argued that Ashman was at fault for the accident. Specifically, counsel argued that Weiss pulled into the intersection and waited for the light for oncoming traffic to turn red before attempting the left turn, but that Ashman ran through the red light on Roscoe Boulevard. Defense counsel further argued that, at best, Ashman had a stale yellow on Roscoe Boulevard., Ashman first presented to her primary care physician at UCLA with complaints of back pain five days after the collision. She claimed she sustained a lumbar facet injury at L3-4. Ashman underwent three months of chiropractic care and then was sent for an MRI and X-rays, which showed no fracture. As a result, she underwent pain management and ultimately received two sets of facet injections in 2018. Ashman claimed that she could not work the hours she was used to at her job because of her injury. She also claimed that she had trouble focusing at work due to the painkillers she took, which made her drowsy. However, she did not seek recovery for any loss wages and admitted that she can continue to work now. For future medical care, Ashman was allegedly recommended to receive two sets of radiofrequency ablations, 18 months apart, at a cost of $18,000 to $19,000. Ashman sought recovery for her past and future medical costs, and past and future pain and suffering. According to plaintiff’s counsel, defense counsel disputed Ashman’s alleged damages, and told the jury that it should only award Ashman anywhere from $0 to $2,000. Defense counsel noted that there was no ambulance or paramedics at the scene of the accident and that Ashman did not go to an emergency room or an urgent care facility on the date of the accident. Counsel also disputed Ashman’s medical costs and claimed that all of Ashman’s treatment after her chiropractic care was only worth $5,000. Defense counsel argued that Ashman’s alleged condition should have been resolved after her chiropractic care and that Ashman should not have had any pain management. Thus, counsel argued that Ashman’s treatment after her chiropractic care, which consisted of pain management and facet injections, was not reasonable and was overbilled. Counsel further argued that because Ashman did not have any disc bulges on her MRI, Ashman could not have had pain and, therefore, did not need any treatment. Defense counsel contended that Ashman did not have relief from the facet injections because she did not have 50 percent relief on the pain scale. According to plaintiff’s counsel, the defense’s theory about the pain scale was that if Ashman had relief from the facet injections, Ashman’s pain would have gone down from an 8 to a 4 and that if Ashman reported a 6, then the injections were not effective. In response to the defense’s pain scale theory, plaintiff’s counsel contended that facet pain is not diagnosed by MRIs and that those treating Ashman waited to see if Ashman was still in pain at the end of her chiropractic treatment, which Ashman was, and that Ashman then had a diagnostic first facet injection and waited to see if it reduced her pain. Counsel contended that Ashman reported to her treating physician that the injection did reduce her pain and that as a result, Ashman received the second facet injection. The plaintiff’s pain management expert testified that disc bulges usually show degenerative pain, and not facet or acute pain, and that treatment for disc bulges would be epidural injections, which Ashman did not have.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA

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