Apt. complex gate malfunctions, fractures tenant's arm as he tries to fix it. $1M. Los Angeles County.
Tenant blames landlord's faulty maintenance when his arm gets stuck in automated gate.
- Case Name: Park v. Oh
- Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court, BC569323
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, December 08, 2017
- Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, January 14, 2015
- Type of Action: Electrical Products – Negligent Installation or Maintenance, Landlord-Tenant Issues, Negligence, Premises Liability
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. David S. Cunningham
- Plaintiffs: Chon Ho Park, 68
- Defendants: Sang Moon OhHyun Sook Oh
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $1,017,500
- Net Verdict or Award: $559,625
- Settlement Amount: $500,000 with waiver of costs, post-verdict.
- Award as to each Defendant:
The verdict was as to both defendants, joint and several.
- Contributory/Comparative Negligence: 45% to plaintiff.
- Economic Damages:
Past medical expenses: $30,000
Future medical expenses: $12,500
- Non-Economic Damages:
Past general damages: $675,000
Future general damages: $300,000
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 7 days.
- Jury Deliberation Time: 1 day. (2 days per defense counsel.)
- Jury Polls: 12-0 on liability, 12-0 on special damages, 9-3 on general damages.
- Attorney for the Plaintiff:
Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley by Martin J. Kanarek, Beverly Hills.
Seropian Law, A PC by Jacob H. Seropian, Pasadena.
- Attorney for the Defendant:
Kirk & Meyers by Amit Palta, Los Angeles.
- Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
Kenneth Sabbag, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Pasadena.
- Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
Nicholas Rose, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Newport Beach.
- Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):
Brad Avrit, safety engineering, Marina del Rey.
- Defendant's Technical Expert(s):
Ned Wolfe, safety engineering, Signal Hill.
Facts and Background
- Facts and Background:
On November 15, 2013 at about 4:30 p.m., plaintiff, a non-English speaking Korean immigrant, got into his car, drove down the long driveway of his complex, and noticed that the metal slide gate at the end of the driveway was acting erratically. He watched it open and close a few times, and called one of his landlords for instructions on what to do. The landlord instructed plaintiff to flip the switch to the motor box off, so that the landlord could evaluate the issue later that day.
Plaintiff, while still on the phone, attempted to reach for the switch, but it was out of reach and sight. Plaintiff then walked out to the exterior of the unit to look for the switch. The switch was inside the motor box exterior plastic housing. Plaintiff watched the gate open and close again, and while still on the phone on the outside of the complex, reached into the two sets of metal bars and tried to flip the switch. The landlord did not ask him to do this. With his arm in, plaintiff’s wrist got caught and the bars started closing again onto his arm, breaking his ulna and radius.
- Plaintiff's Contentions:
Plaintiff brought suit against his landlords for negligent maintenance of the metal slide gate. Plaintiff alleged that the gate was in an unsafe condition, and defendants did not have a reasonable inspection system in place to discover and cure the defect.
- Defendant's Contentions:
Defendants contended that they acted reasonably in maintaining their property, that they regularly inspected the property, and that each time there was an issue with the gate, defendants hired a licensed gate repair company to make repairs. Defendants also contended that the sole cause of this incident was plaintiff for assuming the risk by placing his arm in a moving gate, and/or the gate repair company for not curing or advising defendants of any safety issues.
Injuries and Other Damages
- Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:
Plaintiff suffered a comminuted fracture of his ulna and radius. During the first year of his injury, plaintiff could not get cleared for surgery because he was a smoker and had a lung condition. As a result, plaintiff suffered through a nonunion, which ultimately required surgery in November 2014.
After surgery, plaintiff’s pain had nearly resolved, but he noticed some tingling in his fingertips, the result of acute-onset carpal tunnel, common with forearm fractures near the wrist. Plaintiff’s tingling/numbness rated at a 1-to-4 out of 10. The hardware remained in plaintiff’s arm through trial. All doctors in the case recommended that plaintiff have the hardware removed. Plaintiff, however, did not wish to have another surgery due to the uncertainty of the result and his age.
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $30,000
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $12,500