Case details

Plaintiff claimed rear-end crash caused herniated lumbar discs





Result type

Not present

back, herniated disc, neurological, radicular pain, radiculitis
On June 18, 2014, plaintiff Temika Dixon, 39, a school principal, was driving on the on-ramp for southbound State Route 14, also known as the Antelope Valley Freeway, in Los Angeles County, when her Ford Fusion was rear-ended by a 1980 Mercedes-Benz operated by Randall Hunziker. Dixon claimed to her neck and back. Dixon sued Hunziker, alleging that Hunziker was negligent in the operation of his vehicle. Hunziker did not dispute liability., Dixon claimed she sustained lumbar disc extrusion at the L4-5 level and lumbar disc herniation at the L5-S1 level as a result of the accident. Dixon presented for urgent medical care at Facey Immediate Care – Valencia, a Facey Medical Group facility in Valencia, on the night of the collision. She complained of pain to her neck and back, and was treated and released. She underwent physical therapy with Facey Medical Group until November 2014, when she underwent an MRI and was diagnosed with a 2.5 millimeter lumbar disc extrusion at the L4-5 level. She then underwent a couple more physical therapy sessions until she presented to a pain management doctor with complaints of radicular symptoms in December 2014. As a result of her pain, Dixon received an epidural injection in February 2015 and another in March 2015, during which time she underwent another MRI, which again showed the L4-5 disc extrusion. She then stopped treatment in May 2015. However, in October 2015, Dixon returned to Facey Medical Group with complaints of radicular symptoms and started up treatment again. In March 2016, Dixon woke up to find that she could not get out of bed. She was transported by ambulance to Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, in Valencia, where she underwent an MRI, which showed that the L4-5 disc herniation had become bigger. It also showed a new 4 to 5 millimeter lumbar disc herniation at the L5-S1 level. As a result, Dixon underwent a microdiscectomy at the L5-S1 level. In December 2017, Dixon’s attorneys referred her to a neurosurgery expert, who ordered another MRI, which showed the same findings as the March 2016 MRI. The plaintiff’s expert neurosurgeon opined that the radiologist who read the November 2014 and March 2015 MRIs missed the L5-S1 disc herniation. The expert also opined that Dixon needed a lumbar fusion and a second fusion 20 years later due to adjacent level disc disease. The expert testified that Dixon’s future medical costs, as a result of the two fusion surgeries, would total $386,000. Dixon claimed that although she initially complained of neck pain, it resolved, but that she continues to suffer from lower back pain. Defense counsel disputed the extent of Dixon’s alleged and damages. Counsel noted that Dixon had a gap in treatment from May 2015 to October 2015 and that neither the November 2014 MRI nor the March 2015 MRI showed anything at the L5-S1 level. Defense counsel also noted that the March 2016 hospital records indicated that Dixon had a “recent twisting injury” over the weekend as a result of gardening. The defense’s expert orthopedic surgeon testified that all the treatment after May 2015 was due to degenerative disc disease and not related to the collision. The defense’s radiology expert testified that the herniated discs were both degenerative and not related to the collision. Defense counsel argued that Dixon’s were degenerative and not caused by the accident and that if Dixon was injured, her condition had resolved by May 2015. Counsel further argued that any injury complained of after May 2015 was due to degenerative conditions and/or Dixon twisting her back while gardening in March 2016.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Van Nuys, CA

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