Defendant disputes extent of injuries after U-turn collision. $292K. San Diego County.


Defendant admitted liability but disputed the claims of neck injury.  Refused $100K policy limits demand.

The Case

  • Case Name: Mejia v. Vu
  • Court and Case Number: San Diego Superior Court / 2018-2443
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, April 05, 2019
  • Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, January 17, 2018
  • Type of Action: MIST (Minor impact, soft tissue), Vehicles - Auto vs. Auto, Vehicles - U Turn
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Kevin A. Enright
  • Plaintiffs:
    Marcela Mejia, 30, behavioral interventionist.
  • Defendants:
    Anna Vu
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $292,244
  • Net Verdict or Award: $292,244
  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: None.
  • Economic Damages:

    Past medical expenses: $17,244

    Future medical expenses: $125,000

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past: $125,000

    Future: $25,000

  • Jury Deliberation Time: 6 hours.
  • Jury Polls: Substantial factor: 12-0; all others 9-3.
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Plaintiff will be filing motions for costs and interest pursuant to 998.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Rejali Law Firm, APC by Omid Rejali, San Diego.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Law offices of Scott D. Schabacker by Scott D. Schabacker, San Diego.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    William Tontz, Jr., M.D., orthopedic surgery, San Diego.

    Stephen Heilman, D.C., chiropractic, Escondido. (Treating chiropractor.)

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Kenneth Ott, M.D., orthopedic surgery, San Diego.

    Stephen Rothman, M.D., radiology.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On October 12, 2016 plaintiff was driving to her mother’s house to pick up her 5-month-old baby when defendant made an illegal U-turn directly in her right of way.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    As a result of the crash, plaintiff sustained injuries to her cervical spine, specifically that she lost the lordosis of her neck. Plaintiff also contended that she suffered from a facet injury in the C5/C6 region, which became chronic.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That the crash was minor and at best plaintiff suffered a strain/sprain of her neck that should have been healed in 6 to 8 weeks.

    That all of plaintiff’s treatments were on liens and attorney-manufactured. That plaintiff over-treated.

    Defendant’s called Dr. Rothman who contended that plaintiff could have manipulated the X-rays to show that her neck had lost its curvature. Defendant’s also called a physical therapist who previously had treated plaintiff for a prior back injury. She testified that plaintiff had prior back problems and suffered 1-rated pain in her back.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Loss of cervical lordosis; chronic neck pain; facet injury.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $38,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $140,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: None.
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: None.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: Policy limits of $100,000 on February of 2018.
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $25,500. 

Additional Notes

Insurer: Wawanesa

Update as of November 2020:

The trial court granted the defendant’s JNOV and reduced future damages by $125,000 in September 2019.

Plaintiff appealed and the Court of Appeal reversed the decision and reinstated the jury’s verdict in October 2020.

Wawanesa ended up paying $374,993.18 inclusive of pre and post-judgment interest.

Appellate counsel: Tharpe & Howell by Eric B. Kunkel.

Trial Counsel: Scott D. Schabacker.


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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