On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, L-5333-04.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted December 13, 2006
Before Judges Collester and Sabatino.
Plaintiff Duane Jefferson filed suit on July 1, 2004, alleging personal injuries to his back and neck resulting from an automobile accident in Verona on July 29, 2002. According to the police report, plaintiff was seated in his car which was parked on Lakeside Avenue when it was struck by an automobile driven by defendant Conrad Muscarella, who admitted he was talking on his car phone at the time.
Plaintiff was taken from the accident scene to Mountainside Hospital where he was treated and released. Two days later he complained to his personal physician of pain in his back, neck and leg, and he was referred to Dr. Michael A. Corey, a chiropractor. Dr. Corey's findings were that plaintiff experienced pain and spasm in both his cervical and lumbosacral regions. Dr. Corey treated plaintiff with manual manipulation, hydrotherapy, and electrical stimulation therapy once a week for approximately four to five months. He also prescribed Percocet for pain. Plaintiff did not return to work until six months after the accident.
During the time he was treated by Dr. Corey, plaintiff underwent a nerve conduction study by needle electromyography performed by Dr. Enrique Hernandez, whose report indicated bilateral lumbar radiculopathy at the L5 level and bilateral upper dorsal radiculopathy. Plaintiff also had an MRI performed on August 3, 2002. The report from Dr. Stephen J. Conte, the radiologist, stated the MRI of the cervical spine gave the following impression:
1. Varying degrees of diminished signal intensity of the discs throughout the cervical spine resulting from a slight degree of intrinsic desiccation of the disc material.
2. Slight straightening of the normal lordotic curvature of the cervical spine suggestive of muscle spasm and cervical myalgia. Correlation with the patient's clinical status is required to determine the significance of this finding.
The report also denoted the following impression of the lumbar spine:
1. Posterior disc herniation at L4-L5.
2. Straightening of the normal lordotic curvature of the lumbar spine suggestive of muscle spasm and lumbar myalgia. Correlation with the patient's clinical status is required to determine the significance of this finding.
Dr. Corey's report, dated January 22, 2004, set forth the following diagnosis:
The patient has sustained acute sprains or strains to the cervical and lumbar spine as well as ...