Cause and extent of injury disputed after three-vehicle rear-ender. Los Angeles County.

Summary

Driver stops for pedestrian, is hit from behind in three-vehicle rear-ender. Causation of injury is disputed.

The Case

  • Case Name: Ramirez v. Abouchian
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angles Superior Court / BC521127
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, January 27, 2016
  • Date Action was Filed: Thursday, September 12, 2013
  • Type of Action: Vehicles - Auto vs. Auto, Vehicles – rear-ender
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon C. Edward Simpson, Jr.
  • Plaintiffs:
    Daysi Del Carmen Ramirez
  • Defendants:
    Nerses Abouchian
    Marine Abouchian
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: Defense verdict.
  • Economic Damages:

    Plaintiff claimed to be a candidate for future lumbar surgery at an additional cost of $250,000 and future facet injections in the neck for $60,000 for total medical specials of $326,370 plus future medical bills of $360,000.00 for a total of $686,370.

    Defendants' vehicle sustained frame damage and over $5,000 damage. The middle vehicle sustained over $12,000 in damage and plaintiff's car sustained $1,500 in damage. 

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 5 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 1/2 hours.
  • Jury Polls: Unanimous for defendants.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Law Office of Andranik A. Zeytuntsyan by Andranik A. Zeytuntsyan, North Hollywood.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Gates, O'Doherty, Gonter & Guy, LLP by K. Robert Gonter, Jr.,, Irvine.

    Mark R Weiner & Associates by Peter Diamond, Glendale.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Douglas Brown, M.D., radiology.

    Stepan Kasimian, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Beverly Hills.

  • Neil I. Chafetz, M.D., radiology, San Pedro.

    Jeffrey Korchek, M.D., orthopedic surgery, North Hollywood.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On Sept. 12, 2011, plaintiff Daysi Del Carmen Ramirez was traveling on Pacific Avenue in Glendale when she came to a stop to allow pedestrians to cross the street. While stopped, plaintiff was rear-ended by a van that was/had been rear-ended by defendant Nerses Abouchian. Plaintiff sued defendants Marine Abouchian and Nerses Abouchian.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiff contended that all of plaintiff's medical expenses of $326,000 and future medical expenses of $360,000.00 as well as pain and suffering of plaintiff were caused by the accident.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendants did not dispute liability  but disputed causation and extent of injury. Defendants contended that plaintiff was not injured and all the medical expenses were unreasonable and unnecessary. Defendants contended that defendants' negligence was not a substantial factor in causing any of plaintiff's injuries or damages.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Plaintiff underwent numerous epidural and facet injections and had a positive discogram. Four years after the accident, Dr. Stepan Kasimian performed a two-level transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion at L4-5 and L5-1 with rods and screws.

    Plaintiff had previously undergone the facet and epidural injections by Dr. Nabil Dahi. The discogram was concordant with L4-L5 and L5-S1 with control negative. Plaintiff underwent lumbar L4-5 and L5-S1 decompression (worst leg pain on the left side with bilateral symptoms and interbody fusion at L4-5 and L5-S1 with instrumentation autograph fusion and allograph fusion). The surgery lasted over five hours. The surgery was performed on both the left, and the right side and a TLIF exposure on the left side with decompression of the left L4-L5 and L5-S1 levels. The levels were decompressed under microscope and TLIF was implanted in both discs. The annulus was incised in traversing the nerve root. Both discs were removed and replaced with implants. Plaintiff remained in the hospital for three days.

    Defendants argued that the MRI films revealed that there was no neurocompression on any of plaintiff's discs and there was no need for surgery. The surgery was only 60 percent successful, which defendant’s doctor opined was an indication that the surgery was unnecessary.

  • Plaintiff claimed to be a candidate for future lumbar surgery at an additional cost of $250,000 and future facet injections in the neck for $60,000 for total medical specials of $326,370 plus future medical bills of $360,000.00 for a total of $686,370.00.

    Defendants' vehicle sustained frame damage and over $5,000 damage. The middle vehicle sustained over $12,000 in damage and plaintiff's car sustained $1,500 in damage.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: Plaintiff incurred $326,370 in medical expenses, primarily $167,000 from Olympia Medical Center for a double level lumbar fusion and $57,000 in surgeon fees from Dr. Stepan Kasimian.
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $360,000

Additional Notes

Plaintiff had originally demanded the policy limits of $100,000 and plaintiff alleges that defendant failed to tender the policy limits and therefore demanded $1.2 million at the time of trial. Defendant tendered the $100,000 policy limits, which was refused by plaintiff.