Case details

Plaintiff’s treatment was excessive and unnecessary: defense





Result type

Not present

hands, head, injuries, legs, mid-back pain, neck, shoulder
On Aug. 29, 2012, plaintiff Tatiana Zanjani, 25, a student, was driving her 2008 Nissan Murano in heavy traffic in the vicinity of Diablo Valley College and Sun Valley Mall, in Pleasant Hill. When the signal ahead of Zanjani turned green, the stopped traffic started to move up toward the intersection. However, Zanjani was unable to proceed, as she intended to make a left, but the turn lane was full. As a result, she remained stopped in the left hand lane. Since Zanjani appeared to be stopped while the light was green, Bernice Valencia honked the horn of her 1996 Honda Accord and attempted to go around Zanjani on the right. However, Valencia found the right-hand lane blocked by a passing truck, causing her to swerve back from attempting to enter the right lane and brake, but a rear-end collision occurred. Zanjani, who was a fully restrained driver, claimed to her neck. Zanjani sued Bernice Valenica (who was initially erroneously sued as “Berenice” Valencia) and the owner of Valenica’s sedan, her mother, Maria Ortega. Zanjani alleged that Valenica was negligent in the operation of her sedan and that Ortega was vicariously liable for Valencia’s actions. Valencia and Ortega conceded liability., Zanjani claimed that she suffered neck, shoulder, and mid-back pain that radiated into her hands and legs. She testified that her head moved forward and back, and may have hit the headrest. However, she did not complain of any pain at the scene of the collision and was able to drive her vehicle from the scene. Two days later, on Aug. 31, 2012, Zanjani saw a chiropractor, who recorded neck, shoulder, and mid-back pain that traveled to the legs, hands and knees. Zanjani ultimately treated with the chiropractor three times through Sept. 5, 2012. However, on Sept. 2, 2012, Zanjani went to John Muir Medical Center, Walnut Creek, and reported that her neck pain had become worse after her chiropractic appointment. Her exam was normal, and no shooting pain, weakness or numbness was noted. However, Zanjani declined X-rays. As a result, she was prescribed Vicodin and Norco for her alleged pain. On Sept. 7, 2012, Zanjani saw another chiropractor because she felt the first one had made her condition worse. The second chiropractor noted that Zanjani had neck pain that radiated into the hand. In addition, the cervical exam showed tenderness, but normal range of motion and strength. Zanjani then underwent six chiropractic visits through Sept. 19, 2012. On Oct. 3, 2012, Zanjani returned to John Muir with complaints of back pain. She claimed that the pain medications that she was previously prescribed did not help. However, the hospital was concerned about possible drug-seeking behavior, so it refused to renew Zanjani’s prescriptions without a re-examination. As a result, Zanjani presented to her treating orthopedic surgeon on Nov. 1, 2012, and complained of neck, back, leg, and hand pain and/or numbness since the collision. She denied prior problems, accidents, or , and it was the treater’s impression that Zanjani was suffering from muscle and ligament strain, a possible right-sided cervical disc herniation, a possible right carpal tunnel syndrome, a possible mid-thoracic compression fracture, and a lumbosacral strain. As a result, an MRI, EMG and TENS unit were recommended, and she was prescribed the medications of Percocet, Vicodin, Motrin, Flexeril, Norco, and Naproxen. However, the EMG, which was performed on Nov. 27, 2012, was normal and the MRI, which was performed on Nov. 14, 2012, showed trace findings, but allegedly nothing to explain radicular symptoms. In addition, the MRI of the thoracic spine was normal. Zanjani underwent 20 physical therapy sessions between Nov. 6, 2012, and Feb. 18, 2013. However, she claimed during an interim visit with her treating orthopedic surgeon on Dec. 10, 2012, that physical therapy made her condition worse. As a result, the impression was that Zanjani was suffering from chronic neck and back pain. She also claimed that she had a recurrence of severe pain on Feb. 13, 2013, but she ascribed it to bathing her dog rather than to the crash. Defense counsel disputed Zanjani’s and damages, noting that no airbags were deployed in either car, and that Zanjani was able to get out of her car at the scene while she waited for the police. Counsel also noted that once the police arrived, spoke to the drivers, and wrote up a “non-injury” accident report, both drivers were able to drive their vehicles from the scene of the collision. Counsel further noted that neither Valencia nor her passenger were injured in the crash, and that Zanjani did not seek any emergency care until Sept. 2, 2012, when she complained of neck pain after a chiropractic appointment. In addition, defense counsel noted that Zanjani did not recall missing any classes, even on the day of the accident, or having to drop any classes as a result of her . Defense counsel contended that, despite her youth, Zanjani had been involved in at least three prior motor vehicle accidents with reported and claims, first on Sept. 4, 2009, then on Aug. 3, 2010, and then on Oct. 11, 2011. Thus, counsel argued that Zanjani provided an inaccurate history to her treating orthopedic surgeon, causing any opinion or diagnosis that the surgeon may have offered to be suspect. Counsel further noted that it did not appear that Zanjani had obtained any medical treatment related to the subject accident in nearly three years. As a result, defense counsel argued that Zanjani’s treatment with her treating orthopedic surgeon was excessive and not medically reasonable.
Superior Court of Contra Costa County, Contra Costa, CA

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