Homeless ex-con on bike hits car door that's suddenly opened; $44K offer. $85K verdict. Santa Barbara County.
Plaintiff is riding his bike after a shift at a fast food restaurant when a car door is opened in front of him, causing him to fall. Fractured clavicle, shoulder injury.
- Case Name: Lopez v. Wicklman
- Court and Case Number: Santa Barbara Superior Court
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Monday, October 06, 2014
- Date Action was Filed: Thursday, September 26, 2013
- Type of Action: Bicycle Accident, Vehicles - Auto vs. Auto
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Thomas Anderle
- Plaintiffs: Mr. Lopez, 62, fast-food worker
- Defendants: Lisa Wicklman
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $85,575
- Contributory/Comparative Negligence: None.
- Economic Damages:
Loss of earnings: $3,120
- Non-Economic Damages:
- Punitive Damages:
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 4 days
- Jury Deliberation Time: 4 hours
- Jury Polls: 11-1
- Attorney for the Plaintiff:
Quirk Law Firm, LLP by Trevor Quirk, Ventura.
- Attorney for the Defendant:
Mark R Weiner & Associates by Jay Rubin, Glendale.
- Plaintiff’s Medical Experts: Michael Price, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Santa Barbara.
- Defendant's Medical Experts: Richard Kahmann, orthopedic surgery, Santa Barbara.
Facts and Background
- Facts and Background:
Plaintiff is a 62-year-old Hispanic, homeless man, with 3 past felonies (2 DUIs and a meth possession). Plaintiff was riding his bike down State Street in Santa Barbara at 5 p.m. on a Saturday after he got off of work at Chick-fil-A. Defendant was in the passenger seat of her car driven by her husband, intending to go shopping. While they were stopped in a traffic lane, she opened her door. Plaintiff testified he was riding 15-20 mph when he hit defendant's car door.
Plaintiff was taken by paramedics to the hospital, where he was treated and sent to the homeless shelter.
- Plaintiff's Contentions:
That defendant became impatient while waiting in traffic and was at fault for not looking before she opened her door; that plaintiff's fractured clavicle and knee surgery were a result of the incident.
- Defendant's Contentions:
Defense claimed client was riding too fast and could have avoided the door; that the knee surgery was not the result of the incident.
Injuries and Other Damages
- Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:
Obvious clavicle fracture at the scene; later claimed knee injury although there were no documented knee problems at scene. Ortho treatment a week later, with no documented knee complaints. Seen at the ER two weeks after the incident for a gluteal abscess, and again no documented knee problems.
A month after the incident, plaintiff complained of knee pain and was referred for an MRI. Positive MRI for meniscus tear. Plaintiff had arthroscopic knee surgery five months after the incident. Plaintiff healed well and told the DME doctor and the jury that he is 100% better.
Demands and Offers
- Plaintiff §998 Demand: $125,000
- Defendant §998 Offer: $44,400