Plaintiff vs. Lucky’s Supermarket–Los Angeles Superior Court

Plaintiff worked for a food distributor at the time of the accident. Plaintiff testified in deposition that, earlier in life, he was a professional baseball pitcher, playing for the Dodgers and for the White Sox, among other teams. He said that he had won the All-Star game in 1967. By sometime in the 1970s, he had suffered enough damage to his shoulder that he had to give up the sport. By the time the accident happened in this case, he had undergone 11 shoulder surgeries.

As part of a San Fernando Valley store remodeling and the preparation for reopening, he was restocking his company’s products around midnight when a “gondola,” a long line of shelving, suddenly tilted toward him because it had been loaded unevenly on one side. He claimed that he tried to hold back the falling shelving, but could not do so. He finally jumped back out of the way and it crashed to the floor with its contents spilling everywhere.

Plaintiff claimed that his efforts to push back the gondola resulted in the immediate onset of serious pain in his already weak shoulder. He was so traumatized by the incident, he said, that he went straight to his car, smoked a cigarette, and then left for home. The next day he reported his injury to his employer.

Plaintiff was under the treatment of one of the best known orthopedic surgeons in the LA area, a surgeon who had performed shoulder surgery on Dodgers’ pitcher, Orel Hershiser. A twelfth surgery followed the incident in this case. There was no question but that plaintiff’s shoulder was in need of further surgery. The question to be answered was whether the incident at the supermarket had anything to do with it.

Following plaintiff’s deposition where he testified about his baseball exploits, Mr. Mann discussed the strange case with an acquaintance who was an avid baseball fan. He learned that the All-Star game that plaintiff claimed to have won was actually won by Denny McClain in what was the longest game in All-Star history. Taking a cue from “Field of Dreams,” Mr. Mann obtained a copy of “The Baseball Encyclopedia” and found that plaintiff never played even one inning in the major leagues.

At trial, with “The Baseball Encyclopedia” on defense counsel’s table, plaintiff was questioned about his claim at deposition of having won the All-Star game, and about playing for the Dodgers and the White Sox. Plaintiff sheepishly admitted that the game he won had been a minor league All-Star game, and that he had only played for the Dodgers organization and the White Sox organization in the minor leagues.

Since telling the truth was an issue in the case, as it often is, the jury returned a defense verdict.

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