72-year-old immigrant trips in planter at his doc's office. $75K offer. $782K net verdict. Orange County.
Immigrant (a new citizen) trips on a planter after visiting his doctor. He's 72 but says he would have worked until age 78. Liability is disputed and plaintiff served a CCP 998 offfer.
- Case Name: Julio Cesar Pinzon Altamar v. Alonzo J. Flores
- Court and Case Number: Orange County Superior Court / 30-2013-00631827-CU-PO-CJC
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, February 06, 2014
- Date Action was Filed: Monday, February 18, 2013
- Type of Action: Dangerous Condition Private Property, Premises Liability, Sidewalk Accident, Slip and Fall
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Craig Griffin
- Plaintiffs: Julio Cesar Pinzon Altamar, 72, specialty food salesman
- Defendants: Alonzo J. Flores, plaintiff's physician and owner of building where incident occurred.
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $1,564,000
- Net Verdict or Award: $782,000
- Contributory/Comparative Negligence: 50% on Plaintiff
- Economic Damages:
Past Medical: $140,000
Future medical: $200,000
Past Lost Wages: $24,000
Future Lost Wages: $200,000
- Non-Economic Damages:
Past Non-Economic: $200,00
Future Non-Economic: $800,000
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 5 days
- Jury Deliberation Time: 1 day
- Attorney for the Plaintiff:
Simon Law Group by Robert Simon, Los Angeles.
Ghozland Law Firm by Michael Ghozland, Los Angeles.
- Attorney for the Defendant:
Law Offices of Melissa M. Ballard by Lynne Pearson Houry, Brea.
- Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
Moshin Shah, M.D., neurosurgery, Newport Beach.
- Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
Michael Weinstein, M.D., orthopedic, Newport Beach.
- Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):
Enrique Vega, M.S., CRC, CDMS, vocational rehabilitation, Los Angeles.
Edward Garcia, economics, Pasadena.
Brad Avrit, BSCE, safety , Los Angeles.
- Defendant's Technical Expert(s):
Jason Droll, Ph.D., human factors.
Matthew Phillippe, construction safety, Crestline.
Facts and Background
- Facts and Background:
Plaintiff is a 72-year-old non-English speaker who recently became a citizen. He went to his doctor's office to pick up a letter. On the way out, he stepped down into a planter, fell forward, and hit his head on his parked car, injuring his neck and requiring a cervical fusion. He was recently laid off, but testified that his plan was to work until 78 years old, when his youngest daughter would turn 21 and he would no longer have to support her.
- Plaintiff's Contentions:
That the height differential between walkway and the soil level in the planter, which measured approximately 3 inches and higher in certain places, was a dangerous condition that amounted to a tripping hazard. Had the soil level in the planter been flush or even with the surrounding concrete, plaintiff would have not tripped.
- Defendant's Contentions:
That the planter was open and obvious and thus not a tripping hazard.
Injuries and Other Damages
- Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:
Fracture at C1-C2 that resulted in cervical fusion surgery.
Loss of earnings past and future.
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $174,745.81
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $306,652-390,976
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $39,547.00
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $40,020 - 169,102
Demands and Offers
- Plaintiff §998 Demand: At first mediation, plaintiff demanded $899,000. Following mediation, plaintiff served 998 for $1,000,000. After second mediation, plaintiff served final 998 for $500,000.
- Defendant Final Offer before Trial: At first mediation, defendant offered $10,000. At second mediation, defendant raised offer to $75,000.
- Defendant Offer during Trial: $135,000 offered at trial on day of verdict.
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