Plaintiff's TMJ is exacerbated when she bites down on metal in sandwich from market. $200K. Los Angeles County.
Woman with long history of TMJ says she bit into metal ball inside a sandwich she bought at Gelson's. Defendants admitted liability, contested causation.
- Case Name: Raina Ring v. Gelson's Markets, et al.
- Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / LC099790
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, June 25, 2015
- Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
- Type of Action: Food Preparation, Products Liability
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Michael J. Convey
- Plaintiffs: Raina Ring, 59, travel agent
- Defendants: Gelson's Markets and Daniel's Western Meat Packing, Inc.
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $200,000
- Net Verdict or Award: $160,000 after reduction for prior settlement.
- Settlement Amount: Defendant JBS Distribution, LLC settled for $40,000 before trial per defense counsel.
- Contributory/Comparative Negligence: Prior to trial all three defendants stipulated to liability.
- Economic Damages:
Plaintiff did not allege medical expenses at trial.
- Non-Economic Damages:
Past Noneconomic Damages: $100,000
Future Noneconomic Damages: $100,000
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 4 days
- Jury Deliberation Time: 2 1/2 hours
- Jury Polls: 11-1
- Attorney for the Plaintiff:
Adamson Ahdoot LLP by Christopher B. Adamson, Los Angeles.
Karns & Karns by William Karns, Los Angeles.
- Attorney for the Defendant:
Mark R. Weiner & Associates by Lawrence W. Dailey, Glendale.
- Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
Steven B. Graff-Radford, DDS, orofacial pain management, Los Angeles.
- Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
Richard Boudreau, DDS, oral surgery, Marina del Rey.
Facts and Background
- Facts and Background:
Defendants at trial are a meat packing company and retail supermarket. The market sold packer's beef sandwich to the plaintiff, which had a 2 millimeter metal ball in it. Plaintiff bit down on the metal ball when she ate the sandwich. This bite aggravated a preexisting TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder plaintiff had for over 20 years.
- Plaintiff's Contentions:
Plaintiff admitted she had prior TMJ issues on both sides of her jaw. However, plaintiff’s bite down on the hard, metal ball caused a severe exacerbation/aggravation of her preexisting TMJ condition. This exacerbation led to a rapid degeneration of her left TMJ.
Defendants asked the jury to award $0 to plaintiff in opening statement, and $50,000 to plaintiff in closing argument.
- Defendant's Contentions:
Defendants argued plaintiff’s voluminous medical records showed she had a severe TMJ disorder before the incident. Defendants admitted medical records showing plaintiff had the following in just the 30 days before the incident: 1) severe pain in her TMJ; 2) an MRI of the TMJ; and 3) a TMJ surgical injection.
Defendants argued a one-time bite on a tiny object could not have caused the exacerbation/aggravation plaintiff claimed. Defendants argued plaintiff’s condition was caused by her own daily activity, including clenching and grinding of her teeth. In addition, defendants argued plaintiff was non-compliant with her treatment. Defendants also contended plaintiff was exaggerating her claims for money, and defendants asked the jury to award plaintiff nothing.
Per defense counsel: Defendants asked the jury to award $50,000 for past pain and suffering and nothing for future.
Injuries and Other Damages
- Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:
Plaintiff suffered an exacerbation/aggravation of a preexisting TMJ condition on the left side of her jaw. At trial, plaintiff sought past and future noneconomic damages.
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: None
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: None
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: None
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: None
Demands and Offers
- Defendant §998 Offer: Defendants Gelson’s Markets and Daniel’s Western Meat Packing, Inc., served a joint 998 for $30,000.