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Former Playboy Model Dies from Chiropractic Treatment

Many people turn to chiropractic treatment as an alternative healthcare means. While chiropractic treatment certainly can help with neck and back pain, some evidence suggests that over manipulation can actually cause more harm than good. Such was the case with “Charlotte”, a mother and former Playboy model, who died after receiving “routine chiropractic care.”

According to news reports, “Charlotte” complained to her Twitter followers about a pinched nerve. She wanted to have it corrected before an upcoming photoshoot and so visited the chiropractor. The first adjustment did not seem to do anything to help the nerve so she investigated home-remedies. Apparently, after nothing helpful turned up, she scheduled a second appointment with her chiropractor.

According to news reports quoting friends, it was not even hours after her second appointment that she began to complain of feeling “sick.” She was taken to the emergency room. The next day, she was pronounced brain dead and taken off life support.

Her family has since teamed up with a California wrongful death attorney and filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the chiropractor, alleging that the chiropractor should have recognized the need for immediate hospitalization following manipulation on the second visit. The lawsuit also accuses the chiropractor of failing to file his patient report until four days following her appointment, and one day after her death.

What Went Wrong?

 According to reports, the coroner’s report, the death was caused by “vertebral artery dissection,” a tear in one of the major arteries that carries blood to the brain. Though rare, when this type of injury is present, it is often present in a person recently treated by a chiropractor; and while vertebral artery dissection is not always fatal, it is almost always disabling.

One neurosurgeon told reporters that the best way to prevent this type of injury is to avoid any adjustment that requires sudden twisting of the neck. Dr. Keith Overland of the American Chiropractic Association said that because he was not in the room at the time of the adjustment, he cannot say for sure what went wrong. However, he reassured the family and the public that such techniques are perfectly safe and “that it takes extreme force [to] tear a retrieval artery.”

The American Chiropractic Association also backed the doctor, and apparently blamed the patient, saying that it is the responsibility of the patients to describe existing symptoms in detail prior to getting adjusted, as existing symptoms could dictate whether or not chiropractic care is safe.

Wrongful Death and Medical Malpractice Often Go Hand in Hand

 Under California law, wrongful death occurs when one person is responsible for the death of another and when the death is caused deliberately or through recklessness/negligence. In the context of medical malpractice, a wrongful death lawsuit can be brought about when a healthcare provider provides care that falls below the standards of care, and when that failure causes harm or death.

In order to prove a wrongful death case, the victim’s family or estate must prove some key elements:

  • That the death of their loved one was caused by the defendants’ negligence;
  • That the victim’s death resulted in damages.


Unfortunately, medical malpractice claims rely heavily on the testimony of professionals who provide similar treatment. Those professionals must attest that had they treated the victim, they would have done things differently, which would have resulted in a positive outcome. According to other members of the ACA who have spoken out regarding “Charlotte’s” case, there was no evidence that her chiropractor had done anything wrong, and that her accident was likely a freak occurrence or the result of some other underlying health condition.  This could serve as an effective defense.

Consult a Riverside Wrongful Death Lawyer 

This case, and countless others, are heartbreaking for all of their own unique reasons. When wrongful death does occur, it is reassuring for the family that they can consult with us and lay their burden down in allowing us to bring a wrongful death case. Oftentimes, the family may feel a lawsuit stemming from wrongful death is less about the money than it is about seeking closure. If you recently lost a loved one and you believe wrongful death was at play, do not just assume that your case has no merit. Consult with the compassionate legal team at Heiting & Irwin for a free evaluation of your case. We can help you decide whether or not it would be worth your time to pursue legal remedies.

Call 951-682-6400 or use our online form to schedule a free consultation today.

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