Case details

Plaintiff’s chiropractic treatment was excessive, defense argued





Result type

Not present

back, knee neck, lower back
On Dec. 29, 2008, plaintiff Librado Gonzalez, 35, a painter, was stopped in his 1989 Toyota Tercel at the end of the off-ramp for southbound Long Beach Freeway, about to enter Pacific Coast Highway in Wilmington, when his vehicle was rear-ended by a 1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme operated by Michael Bacca. The impact propelled Gonzalez’s vehicle into the rear of a 2001 Honda Accord operated by a non-party driver. As a result, the police were called, but because there were no serious , no report was made. In addition, no independent witnesses were present. However, Gonzalez claimed that he injured his neck, lower back, and left wrist and knee in the accident. Gonzalez sued Bacca, alleging the defendant was negligent in the operation of his vehicle. Bacca admitted liability for the accident., Gonzalez claimed soft-tissue to his neck, lower back, left non-dominant wrist and left knee. He was not treated at the scene of the accident and did not go to a hospital, but he later presented to his treating chiropractor for 34 chiropractic treatments over a three-month period. During this time, Gonzalez also underwent X-rays and an MRI of his lower back, which was normal. Gonzalez claimed that his vehicle sustained moderate damage to the front and rear, for which the repair estimate came to $5,153.31. He also claimed that the non-party vehicle sustained major damage to the rear. Thus, Gonzalez claimed that the force of the impact caused his . At trial, Gonzalez admitted that he had no residual complaints. However, the treating chiropractor testified that Gonzalez’s past medical treatment and charges were reasonable and necessary. Thus, Gonzalez sought recovery of $6,389 in total medical costs, and an unspecified amount of damages for his past pain and suffering. He also sought recovery of $850 in property damage. Gonzalez testified that although the repair estimate came to $5,153.33, he only paid $1,000 for the vehicle and subsequently sold it for $150. He did not make a claim for lost earnings. Defense counsel argued that the minor nature of the accident could not have caused any and that most of the property damage to Gonzalez’s vehicle was not a result of the subject accident. The defense’s accident reconstruction expert opined that the forces involved in the accident were at the lower level of forces a person experiences in everyday activities and would be unlikely to have caused any . The expert also testified that most of the property damage to Gonzalez’s vehicle was inconsistent with the damage to the non-party vehicle or to Bacca’s vehicle, which sustained only minor damage to the front license plate bracket and bumper cover, and which the repair estimate came to $544.03. The defense’s orthopedic surgery expert opined that the medical services rendered to Gonzalez and the amount charged for those services were neither reasonable nor necessary. He also opined that the MRI was not necessary. In addition, the expert testified that had Gonzalez been his patient, he would have examined him, taken X-rays and placed him on a home exercise program with one or two follow-up visits, for which he would have charged Gonzalez approximately $800.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Van Nuys, CA

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