Jogging with her poodle, woman is attacked by pit bull. Dog bite. $44,000. San Bernardino County.

Summary

Woman suffers bite to leg, claims back injury from fall after dog attack. Interesting 998 offers.

The Case

  • Case Name: Michele Martinez v. Laurinda Alves
  • Court and Case Number: San Bernardino Superior Court / CIVDS1511908
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, March 01, 2018
  • Type of Action: Animal Encounter, Dog Bite
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Donald Alvarez
  • Plaintiffs:
    Michelle Martinez
  • Defendants:
    Laurinda Alves
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $44,152
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 4 days.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Ardalan & Associates by P. Christopher Ardalan and Christienne M. Valone, Woodland Hills.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Demler, Armstrong & Rowland by Bruce E. Sample and Remy J. Obas, Long Beach.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Ramin Rabbani, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Beverly Hills.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Nicholas Elias Rose, M.D., F.A.C.S., orthopedic surgery, Newport Beach.

    Jeffrey Lee Rosenberg, M.D., plastic surgery, Los Angeles.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On September 17, 2013 plaintiff was jogging with her pet poodle (“Charlie”) in her neighborhood in Victorville. As she passed the home of defendant, the defendant’s pit bull (“Rocko”) attacked Charlie, knocked plaintiff to the ground several times and bit plaintiff on her right upper thigh.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiff contended that she suffered low back disc herniation and  a severe puncture wound to her right thigh. 

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant stipulated to liability, the dispute was over the extent of damages.

    Defendant contended that while plaintiff suffered two puncture wounds on her thigh, for which she was treated at the emergency room, her complaints of pain in her low back and other body parts were not related to the subject incident. Additionally, defendant contended that plaintiff’s medical specials were inflated and exorbitant, as plaintiff failed to mitigate her damages by treating under her insurance, and instead, after retaining an attorney, was directed to a series of lien doctors.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Plaintiff suffered from a severe bite wound on her upper thigh, multiple facial lacerations, and claimed that she was diagnosed with herniated discs as a result of the attack.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $23,152

Additional Notes

Per defense counsel:

Defendant sent a CCP section 998 offer in the amount of $50,000. At the Mandatory Settlement Conference, plaintiff’s counsel indicated a willingness to settle for $75,000 but later stated that they would not take less than the $100,000 policy limits. Plaintiff also contended that the defendant’s insurer had acted in bad faith by failing to offer its $100,000 policy limits, and suggested an assignment of the defendant’s rights to sue for bad faith in exchange for a covenant not to execute. 

At trial, plaintiff requested a verdict of $1.2 million, arguing that plaintiff would need between $68,200 and $84,500 for future medical care, including yearly epidural injections for treatment of her neck and back injuries.

Defendant has filed a cost bill in the amount of $21,178.69.

Per plaintiff's counsel:

Prior to trial, defendant sent a CCP section 998 offer in the amount of $50,001.  Plaintiff rejected this offer.  However, defendant was advised that plaintiff would settle the case prior to trial for the $100,000 policy limit available. Defendant rejected this offer. Before closing arguments, defendant offered plaintiff a high-low agreement of $100,000-$20,000. Plaintiff rejected this offer. After nearly four weeks of trial, the jury awarded plaintiff the entirety of her past medical expenses of $23,152.00 and an additional $21,000 in past noneconomic damages, for a total verdict award of $44,152.00. 

Plaintiff subsequently filed a cost bill in the amount of $9,542.72. 

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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