Semi-truck cuts off plaintiff. $3M. San Bernardino County.

Summary

Trucking company admitted liability but contested the extent of future medical damages. A large excess-liability policy was discovered during trial.

The Case

  • Case Name: Jillian Liwag v. Lowey Enterprises, Inc., et al.
  • Court and Case Number: San Bernardino Superior Court / CIVDS1613468
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, August 31, 2018
  • Date Action was Filed: Tuesday, August 09, 2016
  • Type of Action: Vehicles - Intersection, Vehicles - Truck vs. Auto
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Wilfred J. Schneider
  • Plaintiffs:
    Jillian Liwag, 22, nursing student.
  • Defendants:
    Lowey Enterprises, Inc.
    Abdul Sayed Hakim
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $3,016,507.04
  • Economic Damages:

    Past economic loss: $51,507.02

    Future economic loss: $150,000

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past non-economic Loss: $1,015,000

    Future non-economic Loss: $1,800.000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 5 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 2 hours.
  • Jury Polls: 12-0 past economic loss; 11-1 past and future non-economic loss; and future economic loss.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Law Offices of Brian J. Breiter, LLP by Brian J. Breiter and Jeffrey J. Twomey, Los Angeles.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Law Office of Anthony T. Schneider by David J. Byassee, Newport Beach.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Matthew J. Enna, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Beverly Hills. (Treating physician.)

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Kenneth R. Sabbag, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Pasadena.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff alleged she was injured when a semi-truck operated by defendant Sayed Abdul Hakim, an employee of Lowey Enterprises, Inc., cut her off and caused the front of her car to slam into the side of defendants’ truck. This collision occurred on September 8, 2015, at the intersection of West Fern Avenue and South Buena Vista Street in Redlands.

    Before trial, defendants stipulated to liability for the crash. The sole issue for the jury was the measure of plaintiff’s past and future economic and non-economic damages.

     

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That plaintiff suffered a bad wrist fracture that caused tremendous pain and emotional suffering, including depression and anxiety. She claimed that she lost 15-20 pounds, was losing her hair, her boyfriend broke up with her, and she became socially withdrawn. Plaintiff also contended that she suffered grade four chondromalacia and arthritis as a result of the penetrating screws. She also contended that the arthritis and pain will grow worse over the course of her life and career as a nurse and she will ultimately require a complete wrist fusion. Additionally, that she required a scar revision to address the keloid scar in addition to post-operative care after each procedure; finally, that she will never be able to perform high-impact activities that she previously enjoyed (e.g. doing push-ups, snowboarding, or taekwondo).

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendants stipulated to liability before trial and stipulated to the past medical bills on the fourth day of trial prior to closing argument.

    Defendants contended that all past care was reasonable and necessary but contested the extent of necessary future care. Defendants admitted that a scar revision was reasonable and that plaintiff may require a partial wrist fusion in the future; however, they contended that the likelihood of actually needing the partial wrist fusion was only 20 percent. Defendants also contested the extent of plaintiff’s general damages as she never missed significant time from work, has not required any modifications at work, and continues to exercise at the gym.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    The force of the impact caused plaintiff’s airbags to deploy and fractured the radial head of her right wrist (dominant arm). Plaintiff was taken by ambulance to the emergency room where she underwent a closed reduction and splinting of her fracture. Two days later she underwent an open reduction internal fixation at Loma Linda Hospital.

    At the time of the crash, Plaintiff was a twenty-two-year-old nursing student close to graduation. Her injuries forced her to suspend her studies and delayed her graduation by over six months. Plaintiff testified that during these six months, she experienced severe depression and anxiety, although she never sought psychological treatment. She underwent physical therapy but reported little to no progress. In July 2017, Plaintiff consulted with board-certified orthopedic surgeon and hand fellow Matthew J. Enna, M.D. to address chronic pain, severely limited range of motion, and crepitus in her right wrist ever since the crash.

    Dr. Enna obtained a CT scan and found that several screws from the implanted hardware were penetrating the intra-articular surface of her wrist and were further impacting the cartilage in her wrist. In light of the CT results, plaintiff underwent a second surgery with Dr. Enna to remove the hardware. Dr. Enna was successful in removing the offending screws that were causing further damage, however one of the screws was stripped and made it impossible for the entire implant to be removed. Dr. Enna was confident that the remaining hardware would not cause further problems as the crepitus resolved, and plaintiff's pain and range of motion improved slightly. In the weeks following this second surgery, plaintiff developed a bacterial infection at the incision site. Plaintiff took medication and the infection resolved, however it left her with an unsightly keloid scar approximately one-and-a-half inches in length and one-half of an inch in width. Plaintiff testified that this scar causes her emotional pain and serves as a reminder of the crash. 

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $51,507.02
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $193,500

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $750,000
  • Plaintiff Demand during Trial: $3,000,000 once it was revealed that defense had a $15,000,000 excess policy.
  • Defendant Final Offer before Trial: $250,000

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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