Construction worker's fall blamed on unsafe conditions. $2.8M. Los Angeles County.
Plaintiff beats his CCP 998 demand when one subcontractor falls into unprotected trench dug by another contractor.
- Case Name: Carlos Salazar v. Cannon Constructors South, Inc. et al
- Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC562473
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Tuesday, April 17, 2018
- Type of Action: Premises Liability
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Laura Ellison
- Plaintiffs: Carlos Salazar, 46, electrician.
- Defendants: Cosco Fire Protection, Inc.Cannon Constructors South, Inc.
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $2,847,500
- Award as to each Defendant:
70% liability on Cannon Constructors; 30% on Cosco Fire Protection.
- Contributory/Comparative Negligence: None for plaintiff or his employer.
- Economic Damages:
$47,500.00 in lost earnings, per stipulation of the parties.
- Non-Economic Damages:
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 1 week.
- Jury Deliberation Time: 1 1/2 hours.
- Attorney for the Plaintiff:
Kramer Holcomb Sheik, LLP by Daniel Kramer and Teresa Johnson, Los Angeles.
- Attorney for the Defendant:
Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP by Cary Wood and Ankur Tarneja, Los Angeles. (For Cannon Constructors.)
Mavredakis Cranert & Crawford by Paul Kwong, Pasadena. (For Cosco Fire Protection.)
- Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
Khyber Zaffarkhan, DO, pain management, Newport Beach.
Ernest Agatstein, M.D., urology, Inglewood. (Treating physician.)
Stephan Honda, M.D., family medicine, Hawthorne. (Treating physician.)
- Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
- Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):
Brad Avrit, PE, safety engineering, Marina del Rey.
- Defendant's Technical Expert(s):
Tom Hacker, construction, Riverside. (For Cosco Fire Protection.)
Dale Winchell, construction, Irvine. (For Cannon Constructors South, Inc.)
Facts and Background
- Facts and Background:
On December 11, 2012, plaintiff was at a construction site for his second day of work when he fell into a trench dug by defendant Cosco Fire Protection, Inc. Defendant Cannon Constructors was the general contractor. As a result of his fall, plaintiff suffered three left-side rib fractures and a ruptured spleen. Plaintiff spent eight months healing at home, unable to work. Plaintiff eventually returned to work full time, where he ultimately received a raise and promotion, however, he will suffer from rib pain for the rest of his life.
- Plaintiff's Contentions:
That both defendants were negligent for failing to ensure the trench was covered before plaintiff fell into the trench. Defendant Cannon was the general contractor and had overall responsibility for safety on the job site, however, defendant Cannon did not cover this trench even though there was testimony it had ensured other portions of the trench line were covered.
Defendant Cosco dug the trench but failed to ensure it was covered before going home the day before plaintiff fell in. Plaintiff contended that he suffered severe and traumatic injuries as a result of the incident.
- Defendant's Contentions:
Defendant Cannon admitted fault at trial. Defendant Cosco denied liability. Defendant Cannon sought allocation of fault amongst Cannon, Cosco, plaintiff, and plaintiff’s employer.
Regarding damages, defendants argued that plaintiff has continuously worked full time as an electrician since returning to work nine months after the accident without any work restrictions or accommodations. Defendants also argued that plaintiff had in fact been promoted after the accident, earning more money than he had earned prior to the accident. Defendants also disputed plaintiff's claimed ongoing nerve pain due to intercostal neuritis.
Injuries and Other Damages
- Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:
Broken ribs, ruptured spleen, ongoing nerve pain caused by intercostal neuritis. After Plaintiff’s ribs were cracked, the nerves running underneath these ribs were irritated by the breaks and were displaced inside the fracture lines, creating a condition called “intercostal neuritis” which is permanent and will cause plaintiff lifelong pain.
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: Waived.
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: None.
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $47,500 per stipulation.
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: None.
Demands and Offers
- Plaintiff §998 Demand: $400,000 to Cannon and a separate $400,000 to Cosco.
- Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: None.
- Plaintiff Demand during Trial: None.
- Defendant §998 Offer: None.
- Defendant Final Offer before Trial: $121,000
- Defendant Offer during Trial: None.