Jury finds no negligence by chiropractor accused of 'improper touch'

David Yates Apr. 15, 2009, 7:46am


A woman who sought a neck adjustment then turned and sued the chiropractor for "unwanted, intrusive contact," left the Jefferson County courthouse empty handed Wednesday, April 15, as a jury found no negligence on the chiropractor's part.

As the Record has reported, LaDonna Burge – who claimed she had an adjustment done "against her will"-filed suit in June 2007 against Dr. Scott Kerr, owner of the Community Chiropractic Center, and his colleague Dr. Ken Arola.

Dr. Arola was later severed from the suit, and Burge vs. Arola went to trial on April 7 in Judge Gary Sanderson's 60th Judicial District Court and ended a week later, with jurors returning with a favorable defense verdict.

Five weeks after undergoing spinal surgery, LaDonna Burge pleaded with her chiropractor, who also happened to be her boss, to perform an adjustment on her ailing neck and back, according to attorney opening statements heard on April 7.

Before performing an adjustment, Drs. Kerr and Arola requested that Burge obtain permission from her surgeon. When the surgeon gave her the green light, Kerr and Arola consented to the adjustment and Burge submitted to two sessions in early December 2006.

A few months later, Burge, the receptionist for Community Chiropractic, filed a lawsuit against the chiropractic center, Kerr and Arola in Jefferson County, claiming the adjustments were performed "against her will" and had worsened her already traumatized neck.

During opening statements, plaintiff's attorney Mike Pierce said Arola failed to exercise good judgment by consenting to Burge's requested adjustment and is therefore negligent.

The plaintiff argued that a prudent chiropractor would know that an adjustment on someone who had recently undergone spinal surgery should not be done until the fused vertebrae were solid – which can take up to one year.

However, court documents show Community Chiropractic Center professionals did X-ray Burge and determined that the fused vertebrae were solid before performing the adjustment.

Burge was seeking compensation for medical expenses, loss of earning capacity and court costs as well as damages for physical pain and mental anguish.

But jurors found no evidence that Dr. Arola was negligent, and awarded Burge nothing.

Arola was represented in part by Michele Quattlebaum, an attorney for the Helms & Greene law firm.

Pierce is attorney for the Arnold & Itkin law firm.

Case No. B179-452

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