Rear-ender on 91 freeway with verdict lower than offer. $3,235. Los Angeles County.

Summary

Defendant had offered $30K while plalntiff demanded $100K.  Strong disagreement in medical testimony on need for procedures performed.

The Case

The Result

  • Economic Damages:

    Past medical expenses $3,235

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    None.

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 11 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 2 hours.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Nelson & Natale, LLP by Silvio Natale, Los Angeles.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Gates, Gonter, Guy, Proudfoot & Muench, LLP by Gina Y. Kandarian-Stein, Irvine.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Sonny Rubin, M.D., pain management.

    Brenda Safranko, M.D., radiology.

    Dao Tran, D.C., chiropractic.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Andrew Fox, M.D., neurosurgery.

    Jay Tsuruda, M.D., neuroradiology/pain management.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Eugene Vanderpol, biomechanics.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Bryan Randles, biomechanics.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On April 17, 2015, plaintiff was driving a 1998 Honda Civic eastbound on the 91 freeway when it was rear-ended by defendant’s 2002 Chevrolet Suburban. The impact pushed plaintiff’s vehicle into the rear of a 2007 Mercedes Benz.

    Plaintiff left the scene of the accident and went to a job interview. She did not have any complaints of pain, discomfort or problems at the scene.

    The damage to plaintiff’s vehicle was significant. The air bag deployed and there was major damage to the rear of plaintiff’s vehicle. The impact caused the rear windshield of plaintiff’s vehicle to shatter. Plaintiff’s vehicle was a total loss.

    Defendant’s vehicle sustained damages in the amount of $3,201.02.

    Defendant admitted liability for rear-ending plaintiff’s vehicle.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiff, age 21, alleged she sustained injuries to the neck and low back.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant argued all of plaintiff’s medical treatment was attorney-referred and on a lien.

    Plaintiff received chiropractic treatment from Dao Tran, D.C. She never had any radicular complaints. However, Dr. Tran sent plaintiff for unnecessary MRI studies of the cervical spine and lumbar spine at Shin MRI which were normal.

    Plaintiff also saw pain management specialist, Dr. Vu, who recommended epidural injections, but never gave plaintiff the injections. Plaintiff did not have any radicular complaints when she saw Dr. Vu.

    Plaintiff treated with pain management specialist Sonny Rubin, M.D. Plaintiff did not have any radicular complaints when she treated with Dr. Rubin.  Defendant contended that Dr. Rubin performed an unnecessary epidural injection to the lumbar spine on the very first visit; that  he provided plaintiff with three additional unnecessary epidural injections and one unnecessary facet injection.

    The first injection was performed at South Coast Specialty Surgery Center. The remaining injections were performed at Downey Interventional Procedure Center and Newport Institute of Minimally Invasive Surgery, facilities owned by Dr. Rubin. On cross-examination, Dr. Rubin admitted that he did not notify plaintiff that he owned these facilities, nor did he provide plaintiff with the option of having the procedures performed at a facility that he does not own. Dr. Rubin testified plaintiff’s future treatment consisted of cervical spine epidural injections, additional lumbar spine epidural injections and a lumbar spine rhizotomy.

    Defendant contended that Dr. Rubin sent plaintiff for a second unnecessary MRI of the lumbar spine at Shin MRI. Dr. Safranko, the radiologist who read all of the MRI films at Shin MRI, admitted that all of the films showed healthy discs. She testified that the second MRI showed a 1 mm increase in a disc bulge at L5-S1 from the prior MRI.

    Plaintiff had four gaps in treatment, each one ranging from 8 months to over 2 years.

    Defense expert, neurosurgeon Andrew Fox, M.D., performed an IME of plaintiff and testified that plaintiff did not need any of the MRIs nor did she need the epidural injections or facet injections. Dr. Fox testified plaintiff did not need any future treatment. He testified that reasonable treatment would be the chiropractic treatment plaintiff received after the accident. Defense expert, neuroradiologist and pain management specialist Jay Tsuruda, M.D., testified the MRIs were normal and that plaintiff did not need any of the injections nor did she need injections in the future.

    Defense expert, biomechanical engineer Bryan Randles, testified there were not sufficient forces to cause any injuries to plaintiff’s cervical spine or lumbar spine.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Plaintiff, age 21, alleged she sustained injuries to the neck and low back.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $100,000 on June 5, 2017.
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $30,000 on July 19, 2019.

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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