Plaintiff, a 43-year-old driving instructor, was giving a driving lesson on a residential street in San Bernardino. Our client drove out of her driveway and her car was hit in a T-bone collision by Plaintiff’s vehicle.
Liability was admitted, so the trial simply concerned the nature and extent of injuries.
Plaintiff suffered a shoulder injury, as well as other injuries in her neck and back. She underwent chiropractic care and saw three orthopedic surgeons and a pain management specialist. The last orthopedist testified that Plaintiff had bulging disks at C3-4 and C6-7. He performed a corticosteroid injection at C6-7 and, when no benefit was obtained, he testified that he would perform spinal fusion at C3-4 after trial.
Past medical expenses were approximately $45,000.00. Future medical expenses for the spinal fusion were claimed to be $120,000.00.
Our orthopedic surgeon testified that Plaintiff’s problem was most likely in her shoulder, not in her neck, and that corticosteroid injections should be tried there before any surgery was performed.
Plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award $421,000.00.
Settlement Demand: $100,000.00. Offer: $50,000.00
Verdict:$33,500.00 Jury poll: 11-1.
What was most unusual about this trial was the amount of Plaintiff’s impeachment. Plaintiff was insured under a Kaiser Health Plan. Her treatment was entirely outside the plan, and was obtained on a lien basis. Her attorney apparently failed to study these records. One of many lies she told was when she testified that she did not work for several months after the collision due to her injuries, yet, suspiciously, she made no claim for loss of earnings. Her Kaiser records, however, showed that she complained of working for 28 days straight a month or two after the accident. The numerous lies she told had a clear impact on the verdict amount. The presiding juror gave a declaration saying, “We didn’t know what she would lie about next.”
Plaintiff’s motion for a new trial was denied. Because we beat our prior C.C.P. § 998 Offer, after Plaintiff pays her medical lienholders, trial expenses and attorney’s fees, Plaintiff will likely go home with nothing to show for her effort.