TBI claimed when bicyclist hits door opened on parked car. San Francisco County.

Summary

Traumatic brain injury is disputed by experts after cyclist suffers a concussion when the door of a parked car is suddenly opened in front of her. CCP 998 demand of $749K and offer of $119K.

The Case

  • Case Name: Chastidy Ronan v. Antonios Panagiotopoulos
  • Court and Case Number: San Francisco Superior Court / CGC-13-529303
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Tuesday, October 28, 2014
  • Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, March 06, 2013
  • Type of Action: Bicycle Accident
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. James McBride
  • Plaintiffs:
    Chastidy Ronan, 35, executive director of non-profit agency
  • Defendants:
    Antonios Panagiotopoulos
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $463,550
  • Net Verdict or Award: $394,018
  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: 15%
  • Economic Damages:

    $113,550

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    $350,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 10 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 9 hours
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Motion for Cost of Proof Sanctions pending.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    The Brandi Law Firm by Thomas J. Brandi and Brian J. Malloy, San Francisco.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Law Offices of Michael F. Brown by Michael F. Brown, San Ramon.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Dawn Osterwil, Ph.D., neuropsychology, San Francisco.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Mark Strassberg, M.D., neurology, San Francisco.

    Ronald Roberts, Ph.D., neuropsychology, San Francisco.

    Martha Singer, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Emeryville.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Mark Shattuck, Ph.D., accident reconstruction, Woodside.

    Anthony Gamboa, Ph.D., vocational economics, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Raymond Merlala, accident reconstruction, Hayward.

    George McLaughlin, economist, Emeryville.

    Eugene Van de Bittner, Ph.D., vocational rehabilitation, Walnut Creek.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On July 7, 2011 plaintiff was lawfully riding her bicycle northbound on Mission Street in San Francisco on her way to work.  Defendant opened his car door into her lane of travel without warning, causing plaintiff to fly off the bicycle and strike her forehead and hands on the cement surface.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That the defendant failed to use due care in opening the door without looking and that he was parked illegally.  

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant disputed extent of plaintiff's claimed injuries and damages and contended that plaintiff was comparatively at fault. That plaintiff was likely traveling too close to cars. That plaintiff had a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury, which likely resolved within nine months and thereafter any on-going complaint of plaintiff was likely psychological and from unrelated stressors in her past and present life rather than a residual from an organic brain injury.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Plaintiff claimed numerous bodily injuries, the most severe being a traumatic brain injury, which her neurosurgeon expert characterized as a severe concussion or a mild traumatic brain injury with severe effects and residuals; ongoing problems with memory, concentration, and headaches.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $21,864.99 (Per defense counsel: $21,846)
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $10,000 (Per defense counsel: $15,000)
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $5,000 (Per defense counsel: $5,000-$8,000)
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $30,806 (Per defense counsel: $342,000-$452,000)

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $450,000 (Per defense counsel: $750,000)
  • Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: $450,000
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $119,000
  • Defendant Final Offer before Trial: $119,000

Additional Notes

Per plaintiff counsel:

The case primarily turned on the expert testimony as to whether it was reasonable for the plaintiff to continue to have ongoing problems from her concussion and whether or not she had continuing mild traumatic brain injury, particularly as she had never been declared disabled from working. 

While all experts agreed she had a concussion at the time of the injury, defense experts opined that she had a conversion disorder or undifferentiated somatoform disorder and that there was no physical basis for her ongoing problems.

The jury believed plaintiff and that she was having ongoing problems. Contrary to defendant's statement, plaintiff did not seek "$3,794,437.90" of which "approximately $2.9 million" was for future general damages. Plaintiff sought reasonable compensation for future pain and suffering.

 

Per defense counsel: 

Despite credibility challenges to plaintiff, the jury believed that plaintiff continued to have headaches and will continue to have them into the future. They did not award for her other cognitive impairment complaints, according to the foreman of the jury.
 
Plaintiff's counsel sought $3,794,437.90. He asked for 47 years of future general damage, which according to to the figures he posted to the jury amounted to approximately $2.9 million. He sought $350,000 in past general damages.
 
He sought between $342,000-$452,000 in lost earning capacity. He sought $5,000-$8,000 in past lost income. He sought 2 years of future lost income without mitigation at plaintiff's present salary, which amounted to $94,000.He sought $21,846 in past medical bills.  He sought $15,000 in future medical bills.

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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