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Kerr v. No Shelter Crossfit, et al.

Radiologist Dr. David Owens Outlines Images to Clear Crossfit Facility Over Back Injury Claim

The Expert: Dr. David Owens, a Georgia-based radiologist testifies for the defense to detail what he believes was evidence of plaintiff’s long-standing back issues and images he says shows the back issues of which plaintiff is complaining did not occur at the time she worked out at the Crossfit facility.

By Dr. Gary F. Gansar, MD, FACS
Senior Physician Medical Director, AMFS

Testifying in a 2018 trial against a Missouri Crossfit facility owner, Dr. David Owens, a diagnostic radiologist from Georgia, offers an opinion for the defense. The plaintiff claimed to have suffered a back injury while working out at the facility due to improper instruction by the trainer. Owens details what he believes is evidence of the plaintiff’s long standing back issues exacerbated by her physical therapy.

Owens begins by explaining how an MRI works in plain language in preparation for his presentation of the films. With this introductory explanation, the jury can easily follow along as he points out the important images from the studies. He shows, for example, that the disc at L5-S1 has a protrusion on the December 3 study. This protuberance, he explains, is irritating a nerve root at that level.

Using both sagittal and axial views at multiple levels, Owens carefully explains the anatomy and pathology to the jury. He leaves no doubt that there is a disc protrusion at the L5-S1 level on the left side that looks very different from the levels above it on December 3.

The doctor continues to take the jury stepwise, interpreting the CT Myelogram that was performed on January 2. He makes it plain for the jury to see the difference between a normal appearing disc and one that is protruding. The myelogram of January 2 obviously demonstrates a major change in the appearance of the disc, which has now herniated. This testimony shows that between December 3 and January 2, the L5-S1 disc deteriorated significantly, going from protrusion to herniation or rupture.

Finally, the radiologist discusses the fact that sometime between the MRI and the CT Myelogram, the disc changes dramatically and this change seems to be in line with the timing of the patient having physical therapy for the back pain. Her complaining phone calls and ER visit began right after her December 18 physical therapy appointment. He concludes that the significant injury to the patient’s lower back occurred sometime around that physical therapy visit and not during a workout at the Crossfit facility.

The jury agreed, rendering a verdict for the defense.

About the Author Dr. Gary F. Gansar, MD, FACS

Gary Gansar, MD, is residency-trained in general surgery. He served as Chief of Surgery and Staff at Elmwood Medical Center and on the Medical Executive Committee at Touro Infirmary and Mercy Hospital in New Orleans, LA. Dr. Gansar was Board Certified in general surgery while in active practice. He joined AMFS in 2015 as a Physician Medical Director.

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