$3M verdict for man struck by car. $100K defense offer 3 mo. before trial. Los Angeles County.

Summary

Plaintiff suffers TBI when hit by a car while he was in the street after dark, helping a dog owner and his injured dog. Medical and loss of earnings damages waived. Defense offered policy limit of $100,000 only three months before trial.

The Case

  • Case Name: Joesph Butenhoff v. Rae Anne Bautista
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC521696
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, August 12, 2015
  • Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, September 18, 2013
  • Type of Action: Vehicles - vs. Pedestrian
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Burt Pines
  • Plaintiffs:
    Joseph Butenhoff, 33, cell-phone tower builder
  • Defendants:
    Rae Anne Bautista
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $3,000,000
  • Net Verdict or Award: $1,950,000 net after comparative negligence by plaintiff.
  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: Defendant: 65%, Plaintiff: 35%
  • Economic Damages:

    Plaintiff waived all claims for past and future medical specials; Plaintiff waived loss of earnings.

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    $3,000,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 7 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 4 hours
  • Jury Polls: 9-3: Liability; 10-2: Damages
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Plaintiff will be filing a motion for costs.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Bisnar | Chase, LLP by H. Gavin Long, Newport Beach.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Kinkle Rodiger & Spriggs by Michael Moon, Riverside.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Ken Nudleman, M.D., neurology, Santa Ana.

    Jon Wen, Ph.D., neuropsychology, Torrance. (Treating physician.)

    Kendall Wagner, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Fullerton.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Robert Baird, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Irvine.

    Thomas DiJulio, M.D., neurology,, Long Beach.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    None.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Peter Burkhard, accident reconstruction.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On December 3, 2012, at 7:30pm, plaintiff was standing in the #1 lane of northbound Palo Verde in the city of Long Beach, helping a dog owner whose dog was previously hit by a car.  The dog was lying in the northbound #1 lane. Defendant was driving northbound in the #1 lane when she swerved left to avoid hitting the dog and instead hit plaintiff. The incident happened at night in a dark area of a residential neighborhood.

    The traffic collision report noted that plaintiff was 100% at fault.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That defendant failed to watch the road ahead; that plaintiff had been present in the #1 lane with the injured dog and it's owner while other vehicles were slowly passing in the #2 northbound lane; that while driving in the #1 lane, defendant passed the vehicles in the #2 lane which had slowed, and then struck plaintiff.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That the investigating officer found plaintiff 100% at fault. That plaintiff violated CVC 21954 - pedestrian in the roadway. That defendant did her best to avoid the incident by swerving when she saw plaintiff.

    That plaintiff recovered from his injuries after 7 months. That plaintiff went back to work after a year, earning the same pay and doing the same type of work. That since plaintiff has a physically demanding job where he builds and maintains cell site towers, climbs up to 60 feet, and drives a company vehicle, he cannot be hurt as badly as claimed; that he is functioning well in his daily life.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Traumatic Brain Injury, fractured hip, torn meniscus, other cuts and lacerations.

  • Depression and anxiety.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: None
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: None
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: None
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: None

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: $875,000
  • Defendant Final Offer before Trial: $100,000 (policy limit) two months before trial.

Additional Notes

Allstate was the defendant's insurance carrier. Allstate denied the claim until April of 2015 when they finally took the deposition of the independent witness listed in the police report. Shortly thereafter, Allstate offered the policy limits.

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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