T-bone crash triggers severe symptoms of plaintiff's congenital medical condition. $834K. Los Angeles County.

Summary

"Eggshell" plaintiff with congenital “Chiari malformation” suffers ongoing pain after rear-ender, and will require C-section to deliver a child.

The Case

  • Case Name: Andrea Juarez v. Thomas Ziegler
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / MC027195
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, June 19, 2019
  • Date of Settlement: Friday, 21 February 2020
  • Date Action was Filed: Tuesday, June 20, 2017
  • Type of Action: Vehicles - Auto vs. Auto, Vehicles - Intersection
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Judge Randolph A. Rogers
  • Plaintiffs:
    Andrea Juarez
  • Defendants:
    Thomas Ziegler
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $834,650
  • Settlement Amount: $775,000 post-verdict
  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: None.
  • Economic Damages:

    Past medicaleExpenses $27,900

    Loss of earnings $250

    Future medical expenses $175,000

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past: $325,500

    Future: $306,000 

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 8 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 3/4 day.
  • Jury Polls: 12-0
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Plaintiff awarded $22,320 for cost of proof sanctions for denying a request for admission. After defendant appealed, the case settled for $775,000 at an appellate mediation.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Kuzyk Law, LLP by Mark J. Leonardo, Lancaster.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Kinkle, Rodiger and Spriggs by Michael F. Moon, Riverside.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Abdallah S. Farrukh, M.D., neurosurgery, Lancaster.

    Andrew S. Morris, D.C., medical billing, Torrance.

    Ray H. Hashemi, M.D., radiology, Lancaster.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Disqualified.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Ted C. Bloomquist, M.S., biomechanical engineering/accident reconstruction.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Jon Landerville, accident reconstuction.

    Kathryn Dainty Davis, Ph.D., biomechanics, Los Angeles.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On August 28, 2015, a sunny, clear, dry and warm day, at approximately 10:35 am, plaintiff, age 27 at the time, was operating her 2014 Honda Civic LX on her way to work, in Palmdale. She was traveling eastbound on Rancho Vista Blvd in the #2 lane at approximately 30 mph when defendant suddenly ran a stop sign coming out of a shopping mall parking lot and  T-boned plaintiff's Honda on the passenger side with his 2013 Ford Edge.

    Plaintiff’s Honda suffered substantial damage, including frame damage, which totaled nearly $7,200.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That defendant was negligent and violated Vehicle Code section 21804 (failure to yield to an oncoming vehicle that constitutes an immediate hazard).

    Plaintiff claimed personal injuries as a result.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant contended that he was not negligent and that plaintiff did not suffer the injuries claimed.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Plaintiff was born with a congenital disorder known as “Chiari malformation” which is a defect in the brain stem. Symptoms come on later in life or are triggered by trauma. Once triggered, the brain tissue at the back of the skull (the cerebellum) drops down into the spinal canal. At that point, the brain tissue and spinal cord compete for the same space. This oftentimes results in debilitating headaches as the brain tissue is squeezed when the person turns or bends his or her head.

    For plaintiff, it also resulted in numbness and tingling down her upper extremities and also severely impacted her memory and concentration. This affected her with her schoolwork in college, at her job and in doing many daily activities of life.

    Prior to the subject MVA, plaintiff was completely asymptomatic from this congenital condition. She and her medical experts testified at trial that the MVA triggered the debilitating symptoms from the Chiari Malformation. She also suffered neck and back injuries. The neurosurgeon expert testified that she required brain surgery to repair the Chiari malformation and that her pending birth would have to be via C-section rather than a regular vaginal birth as she had with her first child.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $27,817
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $187,250
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $258
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: None claimed.

Additional Notes

Defendants failed to attach their experts' medical reports to their Expert Designation on two occasions. Plaintiff moved to preclude the medical experts from testifying at trial and the court granted the motion. Defendants' expert radiologist and orthopedic surgeon were not able to testify. Defendant's final pre-trial offer was $19,947.88; Plaintiff had demanded the policy limits of $100,000.

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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