Case details

Plaintiff claimed parking lot crash caused lower back injury





Result type

Not present

back, lower back, neck, neurological, radiculopathy, soft-tissue injuries
At around noon on May 4, 2014, plaintiff Juliana Rothman, 35, a bank teller, was driving her Mercedes Benz C300 through an aisle of parked cars in the parking lot for Fitness 19, in Pleasanton, when her driver’s side door was broadsided by a Chevrolet C1500 pickup truck, operated by Christopher Habluetzel, as it was backing out of a parking space. Rothman sustained to her neck and back. Rothman sued Habluetzel, alleging that Habluetzel was negligent in the operation of his vehicle. Given the time, distance, and speed analysis conducted by the defense’s accident reconstruction expert, defense counsel argued that Rothman should have seen Habluetzel’s pickup truck as it was backing out of the parking space., Rothman alleged that after the collision, she got out of her vehicle and fell to the ground, onto her buttocks. She claimed she sustained various soft tissue to her neck and back. However, Rothman was not immediately taken to a hospital and she did not present for her first medical treatment until two days after the accident. She eventually underwent approximately six months of physical therapy and chiropractic care. She also received her first trigger-point injection one month after the collision and her second one four months after the incident. Rothman then received her first epidural injection four months after the accident and her second one six months after the accident. Ultimately, two years after the incident, Rothman underwent lumber surgery (an L5-S1 decompression). Rothman claimed that despite treatment, she currently suffers from left, lower-extremity radiculopathy. Thus, she sought recovery of past medical costs, and damages for her past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel noted that Rothman’s vehicle only suffered a dented driver’s side door and a pushed in side mirror, while Habluetzel’s truck was not visibly damaged. The defense’s accident reconstruction expert testified that during the collision, the Delta-V was between 1.5 and 3 mph. Thus, the expert opined that the forces experienced by Rothman’s body were not sufficient enough to cause an injury to the lower back and that the forces were no greater than those experienced during activities of daily living. Defense counsel argued that collision could not have caused the alleged. Counsel also contended that no medical records mention Rothman’s alleged fall after she exited her vehicle and that even if she did fall, it was Rothman’s own fault. In addition, defense counsel contended that Rothman suffered from severe, pre-existing lower back degeneration at the L5-S1 level, resulting in bone spurring, a herniated disc that was calcified, overgrowth, and narrowed foramen. Thus, counsel argued that Rothman’s were due to degeneration. The defense’s orthopedic surgery expert opined that Rothman’s lower back complaints were related to underlying degenerative disc disease and sacroiliac joint degeneration, and not a result of the collision. The expert also opined that Rothman’s chiropractic treatment and physical therapy were excessive and not medically necessary beyond 12 to 18 visits (or roughly two months). In addition, the expert opined that Rothman’s lumbar surgery was not indicated and was not a result of the collision. Defense counsel further argued that Rothman had fully recovered from her alleged condition, noting that after the incident, Rothman got on two round-trip flights to Indonesia (lasting 20+ hours) to visit family. Counsel further noted that one of the flights was within two weeks of Rothman’s lower back surgery.
Superior Court of Alameda County, Oakland, CA

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