Case details

Plaintiff’s disc decompression surgery unnecessary: defense





Result type

Not present

back, bulging disc, cervical, lumbar neck, neck
On Feb. 13, 2008, plaintiff Desiree Hessel, an unemployed 28-year-old, was operating a 1997 Honda Accord in heavy stop-and-go traffic in the middle lane of Highway 99 in Sacramento County, when her vehicle was rear-ended by a 1999 Toyota Camry operated by Reizo Shibamoto. Hessel’s vehicle then went into the right lane, where it was grazed by a non-party 1994 Oldsmobile. She claimed to her neck, back, shoulders and right hip. Hessel sued Shibamoto, alleging that the defendant was negligent in the operation of her motor vehicle. Shibamoto conceded liability. The matter proceeded to arbitration, which resulted in a $12,683 award for Hessel. However, Hessel ultimately rejected the arbitrator’s award, and the matter went to trial on the issues of and damages., A few hours after the accident, Hessel presented to Mercy Medical Group Urgent Care, where she sought treatment for pain to her neck, back, shoulders and right hip. She later switched to Sutter Medical Foundation on March 6, 2008, where she received physical therapy. Hessel then sought treatment on June 13, 2008, from her expert treating physician, an orthopedic surgeon to whom she was referred to by her attorney. The physician subsequently diagnosed her with alleged annular bulging discs at C2-3, C3-4, C4-5, C6-7 and a significant bulge at L5-S1. As a result, Hessel received an epidural steroid injection for the cervical spine, which she reported limited relief on Oct. 7, 2008. The expert then recommended and ultimately performed a percutaneous disc decompression surgery at the L5-S1 level on Dec. 8, 2008. Hessel claimed that her current physical complaints of neck pain, headaches/migraines, lower back pain, right leg pain, and anxiety attacks were attributable to the subject accident. She alleged that she now has difficulty performing activities of daily living, such as dealing with her daughter and another child who is in her custody. Hessel further claimed that she has not been able to return to work. Hessel sought recovery of $97,635.18 in medical specials for her treatment with Laguna Family Practice, Sutter Medical Foundation, Radiological Associates, Elk Grove Diagnostic Imaging, IMED Inc., InvoMed Inc., Sutter Memorial Hospital, River Surgical Institute, and her treating physician and two other physicians. She also sought recovery of $37,000 in damages for her past pain and suffering and $300,000 in damages for her future pain and suffering. Defense counsel agreed that the amount of $3,000 for the initial treatment at Mercy Medical Group and Sutter Medical Foundation was reasonable. However, counsel disputed Hessel’s alleged personal and medical bills. Defense counsel further argued that Hessel’s medical treatment, specifically the percutaneous disc decompression surgery, was not medically reasonable and/or necessary.
Superior Court of Sacramento County, Sacramento, CA

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