Negligent retention claimed by employee who is attacked at work by a co-worker.
After Prop 51 comparative fault reductions, defendant Rocha will be responsible for $1,248,123.38.
Past wage loss: $50,000
Future wage loss: $370,000
Past medical expenses: $15,150
Past non-economic damages: $750,000
Future non-economic damages: $750,000
Costin Law Inc. by Anne Costin, San Francisco.
Top DePaul LLP by Denise Top, Oakland.
McNamara, Ney, Beatty, Slattery, Borges & Ambacher LLP by Peter Hirsig and Adam Young, Fairfield.
Rebecca Thompson, M.D., neuropsychology, Napa.
Mark Strassberg, M.D., neurology, San Francisco.
Joanna Berg, M.D., neuropsychology, Oakland.
Terry Zimmerman, M.D., plastic surgery, Folsom.
Phillip Allman, Ph.D., economics, Oakland.
On September 11, 2012, plaintiff Affonso was attacked at work by a coworker named Thomas Avent. Both men worked for defendant Rocha (dba M.R. Enterprise) at the time.
Approximately nine days before the workplace attack, Avent was arrested on a business trip for allegedly threatening plaintiff Affonso and another employee. After Avent was released from jail, he admittedly wanted to “get back at” plaintiff for having him arrested. Plaintiff alleged that he reported his concerns about Avent to defendant Rocha, but defendant allowed Avent to return to work work after imposing a short ‘cooling off’ period. Avent attacked plaintiff at work the first time he saw him.
Plaintiff asserted at trial that defendant Rocha knew or should have known that Avent posed a threat of violence toward plaintiff in September of 2012; that defendant Rocha failed to take any steps to protect plaintiff from Avent, and that as a result defendant Rocha was liable for negligent supervision and retention of Avent as a result of his inaction.
Plaintiff also maintained a claim based on a premises liability theory of negligence – because defendant Rocha knew or should have known about Avent’s unfitness, plaintiff alleged that allowing Avent to enter the work premises constituted a negligent use of property that was a substantial factor in causing plaintiff’s harm.
Liability was contested throughout trial. Defendant argued that the workplace attack was not foreseeable, as plaintiff and Avent had previously known one another and worked together for nearly a decade without incident. Defendant contended that neither plaintiff nor Avent ever disclosed the complete facts which led to Avent’s arrest. He contended that plaintiff returned to work voluntarily without ever indicating that he feared for his safety, and that neither he, plaintiff, or anybody else at the business had advance warning that the attack would occur.
Defendant argued that the attacker (Avent) and plaintiff himself were either fully or partially responsible for any harm arising out of the incident at work.
Plaintiff suffered physical injuries during the attack, including multiple fractures involving the right‐side facial bones and right orbital region.
Plaintiff was transported by ambulance to a Kaiser emergency room where he was diagnosed with a mild traumatic brain injury. Plaintiff underwent surgery in the ER to repair his facial and nasal fractures.
In 2013 and 2014, plaintiff’s medical care was sporadic due to his lack of insurance. In 2015 plaintiff began receiving consistent medical treatment through the VA: three of plaintiff’s VA treaters testified at trial via videotaped deposition.
In late 2015, plaintiff underwent a second surgery at the VA because of complications related to the injuries he sustained in the attack. In 2015 plaintiff was diagnosed with chronic facial nerve pain.
Plaintiff Affonso received consistent psychological treatment for his emotional injuries and was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by a private and VA psychologist. Plaintiff and his family members testified that he suffered flashbacks and intense fear, anxiety and depression as a result of the attack.