In July 2018, Jim Perkins of Colman Law Group defended a client who admitted rear-ending the plaintiff’s car in Buena Park on Western Avenue.
The impact caused $2,782 in damage to the plaintiff’s 2006 Chrysler, and the defendant’s 2004 Chevrolet Malibu was a total loss.
The plaintiff claimed neck and back injuries. She pursued care that totaled $62,000, including three epidural spinal injections by Dr. Krishnareddy at Orangewood Surgical Center.
Aiming for $1M
Before trial we offered the plaintiff $15,000 and her attorneys rejected it. Instead, they were asking the jury to grant the plaintiff $1,059,000.
During jury selection, the plaintiff’s counsel queried prospective jurors on whether they would have reservations about awarding $1,000,000 if the evidence supported it. Most said they would hesitate and the attorney challenged several of them for that reason.
He used all six of his juror challenges, while Jim used four.
No proof of injury
We called medical experts to testify, an orthopedic surgeon and radiologist, who clearly stated that the plaintiff’s complaints were not believable.
They pointed out how plaintiff’s claims of pain were not consistent with her orthopedic tests and MRI findings.
The defense’s third expert, an accident reconstructionist, estimated collision impact at 15 mph, which would have caused our client’s airbag to deploy.
Our client confirmed her speed and that her airbag deployed when she hit the plaintiff’s stopped car.
The plaintiff and her husband, who was driving the car, were unable to estimate defendant’s speed at the impact.
The case hinged on credibility
“A memorable moment,” says Jim, “was when I cross-examined the plaintiff’s orthopedist. He quarreled with my questions and avoided answering them. I argued that the doctor was avoiding the questions like a politician.”
The plaintiff and her husband presented dramatic testimony, both crying on the stand. In addition to them asserting the plaintiff’s neck and back injuries, they maintained her life had been shattered and that their “physical intimacy” had been ruined.
Both were impeached with their deposition testimony.
“Award them nothing”
At trial the plaintiff asserted she needed another $300,000 for future spinal surgeries and ongoing care. Plaintiff’s attorney requested $1,159,000 to cover combined past and future medical costs and pain and suffering.
“I asked the jury to award nothing,” says Jim, “and a maximum of $1,000 if they felt any injury had occurred.” He also urged a 25% negligence apportionment to the plaintiff’s husband for a sudden unnecessary stop that contributed to the accident.
The jury deliberated an hour and came back with a unanimous verdict—the defendant was negligent but had caused the plaintiff no harm.
Because the plaintiff failed to recover an amount greater than our statutory offer of $15,000, she became responsible for the defendant’s expert fees, plus our team’s statutory costs. We estimate the Memorandum of Costs to be in the vicinity of $28,000.
Plaintiff’s attorney: Joe Facone, McElfish Law Firm
Plaintiff’s medical expert: Gerald Alexander, MD