Case details

Plaintiff did not need injections for alleged injuries: defense





Result type

Not present

back, cervical, herniated disc, lower back, lumbar, lumbar neck, neck
On April 17, 2015, plaintiff Jessie Angulo, 21, was driving on State Route 91, in Long Beach. Her car’s rear end was struck by a trailing sport utility vehicle that was being driven by Sidney Wilson. Angulo’s car was propelled forward, and it struck the rear end of a preceding vehicle. Angulo claimed that she suffered of her back and neck. Angulo sued Wilson and the believed owner of the SUV, Laura Wilson. Angulo alleged that Sidney Wilson was negligent in the operation of her SUV and that Laura Wilson was vicariously liable for Sidney Wilson’s actions. Sidney Wilson admitted liability for the collision, and Laura Wilson was removed from the case., Angulo claimed that there was major damage to the rear of her vehicle, that the air bag deployed, and that the rear windshield shattered. Her vehicle was considered a total loss. She also claimed that Sidney Wilson’s vehicle sustained damages that amounted to $3,201.02. Angulo claimed that as a result of the collision, she sustained herniated cervical and lumbar discs. She underwent chiropractic treatment, and her treating chiropractor referred her for MRIs of the cervical spine and lumbar spine at Shin Imaging Center, in Los Angeles. Angulo presented to a pain management specialist, who recommended epidural injections but never gave them. Instead, Angulo presented to another pain management specialist, Dr. Sonny Rubin, who administered an epidural injection to the lumbar spine during Angulo’s first visit. The injection was performed at South Coast Specialty Surgery Center, in Costa Mesa. The expert then provided Angulo with three additional epidural injections and one facet injection, all to the lumbar spine. Angulo’s treating pain management expert, Rubin, recommended epidural injections to the cervical spine, and future treatment consisting of additional epidural injections to the lumbar spine and a lumbar rhizotomy, a surgical procedure to sever nerve roots in the spinal cord. Angulo sought recovery of $69,000 in past medical costs and an unspecified amount in future medical costs. She also sought recovery of damages for her past and future pain and suffering. Wilson claimed that Angulo did not have any complaints of pain, discomfort or problems at the scene and that Angulo left the scene of the accident and went to a job interview. The defense’s expert biomechanical engineer opined that there were insufficient forces to cause any to Angulo’s cervical or lumbar spine. Defense counsel also noted that Angulo had four gaps in treatment, each one ranging from eight months to over two years, and that all of Angulo’s medical treatment was attorney-referred and on a lien. Defense counsel contended that even though Angulo never had any radicular complaints, Angulo’s treating chiropractic expert sent Angulo for unnecessary MRI studies of the cervical and lumbar spine and that MRIs were normal. Counsel also contended that Angulo’s treating pain management expert, Rubin, sent Angulo for a second unnecessary MRI. During cross-examination, Angulo’s radiology expert, who read all of the MRI films at Shin Imaging Center, admitted that the results showed healthy discs. She also testified that the second MRI showed a 1-millimeter increase in a bulging lumbar disc at the L5-S1 level from the prior MRI. Defense counsel contended that Angulo originally presented to a pain management specialist who recommended epidural injections, but never gave them, and, instead sought treatment from an attorney-referred pain management specialist, Rubin. Counsel also contended that Rubin performed an unnecessary epidural injection to the lumbar spine on Angulo’s first visit, and then provided Angulo with three additional unnecessary epidural injections and one unnecessary facet injection. Counsel noted that while the first injection was performed at South Coast Specialty Surgery Center, the remaining injections were performed at facilities owned by Rubin. On cross-examination, Rubin admitted that he did not notify Angulo that he owned Downey Interventional Procedure Center and Newport Institute of Minimally Invasive Surgery, nor did he provide Angulo with the option of having the procedures performed at a facility that he did not own. He also admitted that he could have performed the epidural injections at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, in Newport Beach, where he has privileges, at a fraction of the cost he charged Angulo. The defense’s expert neurosurgeon performed an independent medical examination of Angulo, and opined that Angulo did not need any of the MRIs, nor did Angulo need the epidural injections or facet injections. The expert also opined that reasonable treatment would have been just the chiropractic treatment that Angulo received after the accident and that Angulo does not need any future treatment. The defense’s neuroradiology expert, who also specializes in pain management, opined that the MRIs were normal and that Angulo did not need any of the injections she received, nor does she need any injections in the future.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA

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