Ron’s most recent trial was in a case where 28 people all claimed to have been injured when the tour bus they were riding in was involved in an accident on the freeway. Ron’s defendant client admitted responsibility for causing the accident, which occurred when she lost control of her car during a panic stop, causing it to veer into the adjacent lane where it struck the bus and forced it to stop suddenly, thereby throwing the bus occupants violently forward so as to allegedly injure them. All 28 people sought medical care to varying degrees, from the same practitioners. 11 of them ultimately underwent surgical procedures to their necks, backs and knees for the alleged accident injuries. In total, medical costs for all of them exceeded $1,000,000. The claims overall totaledmillions of dollars.
Few of the plaintiffs had claimed injury right after the accident. It was suspected that many if not all of the injury claims were grossly exaggerated and much of the medical care unnecessary, undertaken by unscrupulous doctors. Minutes before start of the trial 19 of the plaintiffs dropped their cases for nothing, a move made by the plaintiffs to lessen the adverse circumstantial inferences that would otherwise perhaps be drawn from such a large number of claimants. Trial proceeded forward with 9 plaintiffs, all of them having had surgeries. A prestigious plaintiff law firm simultaneously substituted into the case for the plaintiffs in order to do the trial.
Ron took a vigorous approach to cross examination of the plaintiffs’ medical witnesses, and to the plaintiffs themselves. During the lengthy trial Ron chose not to call almost any of the many defense expert witnesses, ultimately calling only two witnesses altogether. Despite admitted liability for the accident, the jury rendered a verdict indicating that none of the nine plaintiffs had sustained any injury or damages at all, thus a verdict for the defendant resulted. As the plaintiffs had turned down settlement offers made to them previously, the defendant is allowed to recover litigation costs back from them, totaling well over $100,000.
In a five week period, Chris Wesierski tried two cases out of Orange County that returned an unanimous defense verdict in under 30 minutes for each.
In the most recent case, plaintiff claimed wrongful termination and discrimination with eight causes of action alleged. Chris Wesierski and Christian Counts worked diligently and obtained a unanimous defense verdict in about thirty minutes.
Before that verdict, Chris Wesierski and Andres Camacho obtained another unanimous verdict in about twenty minutes. The plaintiff claimed injuries with a couple hundred thousand in medical bills and defendant admitted liability for the accident.
Congratulations to Mr. Wesierski on both verdicts.
In the early morning hours of January 18, 2013, a motor vehicle versus pedestrian accident occurred in a crosswalk located at the intersection of Firestone and Norwalk Blvd. Wesierski & Zurek LLP represented the City of Norwalk. Plaintiff was a 17 year old boy who was walking to school when defendant hit him at 40 mph. Defendant’s car threw plaintiff almost 100 feet and he sustained major orthopedic and brain injuries. Plaintiff sued the driver, the City of Norwalk (which owned the center median that separated the Eastbound and Westbound lanes of Firestone), the arborist that maintained the trees in the median, and the landscaper that maintained the bushes in the median. Plaintiff alleged that the presence of the trees and bushes in the median created a dangerous condition of property since they created a sight obstruction for westbound drivers and pedestrians crossing the eastbound lanes of the crosswalk. The median defendants argued that there was no evidence of poorly maintained vegetation, no evidence of a dangerous condition of property when used with due care, and no visual obstructions between the pedestrian and the driver once the pedestrian left the center median and began crossing the westbound lanes, where plaintiff was hit. It was also argued by the median defendants that the driver and pedestrian each had ample opportunity to perceive and react to the other, and that they were both at fault for not being attentive. Plaintiff asked for $35 to $40 million, including a $20 million life care plan. Non-suits for the arborist and landscaper were granted by the court. The City of Norwalk received a defense verdict since there was no dangerous condition of property. Jury awarded the plaintiff almost $14 million in damages, and apportioned fault as 5% against plaintiff and 95% against the driver. The City offered $250,000 pre-trial, which was rejected. Once post-trial motions are ruled on, the plaintiff will likely owe several hundred thousand dollars to the City of Norwalk.
Wesierski & Zurek LLP recently represented the Defendant school bus company and the driver in a motor vehicle to bicycle collision accident. The accident occurred on May 2, 2013, and resulted in the death of a 13 year old bicyclist. The mother and father each filed separate lawsuits. Plaintiffs argued that the defendant driver was impaired by prescription medication taken the evening before the accident, which was supported by the testimony of a Drug Recognition Expert with the Glendale Police Department. Plaintiffs also argued that the driver failed to look left, right, left before proceeding through the intersection. The defense team argued that the cyclist was riding against traffic on the wrong side of the road and that he never stopped before riding into the intersection and into the path of the bus. W&Z defense team also contended that the driver was not impaired by medications taken the evening before the accident, and that the driver did look left, right, left and that she couldn’t have anticipated a cyclist coming from her right since that is not where the bicycle lane is located. Trial was held in November and December of 2016. On December 7, 2016, the jury returned a verdict in the liability phase in favor of the Plaintiffs, but found the decedent to be 80% at fault. Pre-trial, the defense offered each parent $300,000.00, for a total of $600,000.00. The plaintiff’s attorney demanded $10 million pre-trial and asked the jury to award $250 million. On December 12, 2016, the jury returned a verdict in the damages phase for a total of $250,000, which, when reduced by the 80% comparative negligence of the decedent, came to a total of $50,000 to later be allocated between the two parents by the Court. The Court then allocated $22,500 to the father and $27,500 to the mother. After Motions to Tax costs and Motions for Attorney’s Fees are ruled on, the net recovery to the plaintiffs will be ZERO.
Ron recently defended an injury case where his client, a new and young driver, accidentally made a mistaken left turn into the path of an oncoming car, forcing that car to collide with a light pole resulting in a significant collision. Husband driver and wife passenger, with children in the back, were both injured. The wife passenger sustained serious facial injuries including fractured bones and a large laceration just above her lip, along with a fractured rib/punctured lung. Husband and child both thought she was dead at the accident scene. She had a hospitalization with complications, a subsequent nose revision/plastic surgery operation and considerable medical treatment for her neck and back. She has an identical twin who swore that accident injuries changed her life forever. Driver of the car, her husband, also sustained injuries and together they claimed that they lost out on buying a house, lost considerable income because they could not work and at the trial they asked the jury to award them about $10 million.
It seemed that the claimed injuries were not as severe and longstanding as were being claimed. Partly just by using photographs and by emphasizing inconsistencies in statements and a timeline of events, Ron argued that pretty much all of the future damage claims were against the evidence and therefore not believable.
Heading into the trial Ron’s client had offered to settle the case for a significant amount of money, though far below the multi-million dollar level. The jury ultimately returned a verdict awarding the plaintiffs only a slight amount money more than that which had been offered, far far less than had been demanded.
On behalf of everyone at OC – ALA, we want to welcome Jessica Daughtery to her new role as Chapter President for the 2016-2017 Term. Aside from running the office at Wesierski & Zurek LLP, you can find her enjoying country music especially Trace Atkins who Jennifer Bodenhoefer helped her meet and greet or enjoying the Balloon Festival like the one held at the CLI Conference last year. She can’t wait to join all of you at the National Conference coming up in May! Any questions, suggestions or concerns, contact her via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: (949) 975-1000.
Go Team Orange County ALA!!!!
In a recent trial, Ron Zurek defended a driver whose car struck a teenage boy.
Defendant was driving at a speed of about 33 mph as the boy was crossing the street in a crosswalk. The boy was a gifted child with a high IQ. Impact from the accident caused a forceful head strike and loss of consciousness. This led to a claim that the plaintiff had a permanent traumatic brain injury that would slow him down in his education and achievement forever more.
Plaintiff was represented by a nationally prominent attorney. A total of 14 witnesses were called to the stand by the attorney for the plaintiff. These witnesses were said to include 3 of the best experts in the world. They testified that his injury would ultimately cause him to lose millions of dollars in earnings.
In defense, it was claimed that the young man was at least partly if not fully responsible, despite his age and position. Furthermore, his performance in school and in life belied the contention that his brain was any different now than before the accident. Ron called but one defense witness to cross examine.
At the end of a long trial, the jury held the young plaintiff to be 40% liable for his own injuries and further, compensated him only for a broken arm and a short-lived concussion from which he recovered. His net verdict was a fraction of what was offered to him before trial and a small fraction of what was sought at trial.
Mr. D’Oro received a defense verdict in a jury trial involving a major retail grocery chain.
An employee of a major grocery store chain was driving a company tractor-trailer when he was involved in an accident at an intersection with a 41 year old plaintiff. The truck tried to make a left turn around the back of plaintiff’s vehicle when the accident happened. The defendant admitted fault for the accident but denied plaintiff was injured. Plaintiff alleged after impact the truck (60,000 lbs.) dragged her vehicle 50 feet blowing out the back window to her car and injuring her back, hip and groin area.
Plaintiff alleged injuries requiring treatment with multiple specialists. Frank D’Oro argued that although plaintiff received multiple diagnosis’ from various specialists, plaintiff suffered no anatomical injury. Her diagnostic tests were negative and the number of diagnosis’ by various doctors was evidence of the lack of an objective injury.
Evidence of negligence was found, but the jury found no causation of an injury. Therefore, the jury ruled in favor of the defense, making this Frank D’Oro’s second defense win in less than two weeks.
Wesierski & Zurek is celebrating the recent 12-0 Defense Verdict achieved by Attorney Arpineh Yeremian. The Case arose out of a two car collision at an intersection controlled by a two way stop sign in Santa Monica. It was alleged that defendant, a student, was negligent because he ran the stop sign, as he was late for a class and looking for a parking spot. Plaintiff asked for $1.1 million dollars. Trial lasted 6 days. The jury deliberated just under two hours and returned a 12-0 defense verdict, finding the Defendant was not negligent. We are thrilled to celebrate Arpineh’s Unanimous Verdict!!! Way to go Arpineh!!!
April 15, 2013
By: Paul Lipman
On 4/8/13, the First District in Luttrell v. Island Supermarkets addressed how mitigation of damages is to be subtracted from the recovery under the California Supreme Court “Howell” ruling limiting plaintiffs to the discounted amounts insurance or Medi-Cal pays doctors in full satisfaction of plaintiff’s debt. In essence, the case holds that where the jury finds that the plaintiff is partially responsible for his damages because of failure to mitigate, the order of reductions is: (1) First, reduce all the medical billings to the amount paid by insurance or Medi-Cal (or other government program, or worker’s compensation) to pay off the doctors. Let’s say the original billings were $100,000 and insurance paid the doctors at the discounted insurance rates at $30,000. So the total recoverable for plaintiff is now a maximum of $30,000. (2) Next, apply the failure-to-mitigate percentage to the total. So, let’s say the jury finds that 50% of plaintiff’s damages are due to due to plaintiff’s failure to do something to avoid damages. That means that the $30,000 is now discounted by 50%, and the defendant owes plaintiff $15,000. Very simple, but plaintiff had argued that mitigation should have been taken off the original undiscounted billings, and then to apply the Howell procedure of reducing those billings to amounts paid to discharge them. It turns out that in Luttrell, doing it plaintiff’s way would have made him a little more money, enough to put him over the top on his “998” offer to compromise, and thus would have earned him very substantial costs recovery.
In Luttrell, an already disabled plaintiff (used one or two canes, was supposed to be using a walker but didn’t, and sometimes used a wheelchair) slipped and fell in defendant’s market trying to exit the automated doors, breaking his hip. He was operated on and underwent physical therapy, incurring $177,403 for the hip treatment. Upon discharge from physical therapy he was told to do exercises and stretching and walk every day, but plaintiff admitted that he did not do the leg exercises or other things. He was also told to use a special pillow to prevent ulcers. He developed a skin ulcer on his leg (common with bedridden patients or others who do not move enough). He was re-hospitalized and incurred $513,145 for the ulcer, totaling $690,548. The court granted defendant’s motion to reduce the specials to the amounts paid by Medi-Care ($138,082), and then took 50% off of the ulcer-treatment portion of that reduced amount for failure to mitigate. This was held proper on appeal.