Synopsis: Although Defendant admitted hitting Plaintiff’s vehicle which had been stopped at a red light, the jury found that the accident was not a substantial factor in causing Plaintiff’s injuries.
Case Type: Negligence – Auto
Case Name: Lucas v. O’Gorman
Case Number: SCV-249388
Date: May 31, 2012
Trial Type: Jury
Trial Length: 5 ½ Days
Deliberations: 40 minutes
Verdict for: Defense
Attorney for Plaintiff: Stuart Curran – Sims, Curran & Ocken, San Francisco, CA
Attorney for Defendant: Suzanne Sherinian – Trimble Sherinian Varanini, Sacramento, CA
Judge: Honorable Mark Tansil
Facts: Plaintiff was making a right turn at a red light when her van was rear-ended defendant. No ambulance or police were called.
Contentions: Defendant admitted liability in part and denied it in part. Defendant contended that plaintiff was stopped at a red light, began to make a right turn, but then stopped again for no reason. Plaintiff contended that she was stopped at the red light at the time of impact and that she had not yet begun to make a turn. Plaintiff sustained $817 of damage to her vehicle. She claimed injuries to neck, low back, and both knees. Plaintiff underwent knee surgery after the accident. At trial, defendant disputed whether plaintiff’s knee injuries were related to the accident. Defendant’s accident reconstructionist testified that he calculated the impact force to be 4 mph or less. Defendant’s biomechanical engineer testified that, due to the nature of rear-end accidents, plaintiff’s knees would not have hit her dashboard as she had claimed.
Result: Jury voted 11-1 that the accident was not a substantial factor in causing plaintiff’s injuries.
Settlement Negotiations: Plaintiff made a demand of $62,500. Defendant made a 998 offer of $5001.
Experts for Plaintiff: None
Experts for Defense: Joseph McCoy, M.D. – Orthopaedic Surgeon), Napa, CA.
Ted Kobayashi – Accident Reconstructionist, Boster, Kobayashi & Associates, Livermore, CA.
Sean D. Shimada, Ph.D. – Biomechanical Engineer, Biomechanical Consultants of California, Davis, CA.
Submitted by: Sergio Romero, student at Empire College School of Law