Case details

Plaintiff’s symptoms attributed to weight, prior crash: defense





Result type

Not present

back, cervical, herniated disc, neck, sprain, strain
On Dec. 9, 2015, plaintiff Carlos Maximo, a man in his late 20s, was driving on Convoy Street, in San Diego, when the passenger side of his sedan was struck by the front of a sedan operated by In Bok Lee, who was attempting to make a left turn onto Convoy Street, from an adjacent parking lot. Maximo claimed to his neck, lower back and a shoulder. Maximo sued In Bok Lee and the owner of In Bok Lee’s vehicle, Young Kyue Lee. Maximo alleged that In Bok Lee was negligent in the operation of her vehicle and that Young Kyue Lee was vicariously liable for In Bok Lee’s actions. Young Kyue Lee was dismissed from the case on the first day of trial. In Bok Lee conceded liability, and the trial solely addressed causation and damages., Maximo claimed he suffered sprains and strains of his neck and left, non-dominant shoulder, as well as an aggravation of herniated lumbar discs at the L4-5 and L5-S1 levels. He first sought treatment with a chiropractor the day after the accident, during which he complained of pain in his neck, back and shoulder. Maximo originally underwent five months of conservative chiropractic treatment. He was then administered three epidural injections of steroid-based painkillers in his lumbar spine and underwent several additional chiropractic treatments that ended in March 2017. Maximo continued seeing doctors for consults over the ensuing years. His treating neurosurgeon ultimately recommended a three-level lumbar fusion surgery. At the time of trial, Maximo had not yet had the procedure. Maximo claimed his made it hard for him to bend and stoop. He also claimed he could no longer walk or stand for extended periods of time without pain. He alleged that he used to enjoy hiking, going to the gym, and running 5Ks, but that he has been limited in those activities since the subject crash. Maximo sought recovery of past and future medical expenses, and damages for his past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel argued that Maximo’s back complaints could be attributed to his weight, which was approximately 380 pounds. Per the defense, Maximo’s treating neurosurgeon admitted in depositions that he told Maximo that losing weight could alleviate his symptoms. The defense also presented medical records that included similar statements. Defense counsel also noted that Maximo was in two prior car accidents, including a severe rear-ender that occurred three months before the subject crash. Maximo required two months of chiropractic treatment following the rear-ender, but he claimed he was released from his chiropractor essentially symptom-free on Dec. 8, 2015. As a result, Maximo claimed he did not have any back or neck symptoms at the time of the December 2015 accident, but the defense challenged Maximo’s contention. Defense counsel specifically pointed to a deposition Maximo gave as part of the litigation for the prior car crash. Defense counsel argued that during that deposition, which was taken after the December 2015 accident, Maximo blamed his inability to work out or go to the gym on the earlier crash. Defense counsel additionally questioned Maximo’s claim that he had lowered his activity level since the subject accident. Maximo admitted on cross examination that he participated in a 5K race after the December 2015 crash and before receiving the epidural steroid injections in his back. Defense counsel further noted that Maximo’s doctors had signed liens stating that they wouldn’t get paid for their services until Maximo’s lawsuit settled or a judgment was issued. Counsel argued that the doctors had an incentive to overcharge Maximo and justify the necessity of their treatment.
Superior Court of San Diego County, San Diego, CA

Recommended Experts


Get a FREE consultation for your case