In An Admitted Liability Case, Selman Breitman Emerges Victorious When Plaintiff Seeks Millions

After a three-week trial, in the case of Sandoval-Absher v. Oscarsson, Selman Breitman's team led by Jerry Popovich, Asir Fiola and Celeena Pompeo of the Orange County office were rewarded with a trial win in Ventura County on September 15, 2017. After plaintiff's counsel argued for a verdict of $3 million in an admitted liability case, Jerry argued on behalf of defendant Sandra Oscarsson for a verdict of less than $25,000. The jury agreed with our defenses, awarding $16,309.

The case arose from a three-car rear-end accident on March 20, 2013. Plaintiff Sandoval-Absher was in the middle car during two impacts, one from the rear, and another at the front of her car when she was knocked into the car in front of her. The damage to the rear of Ms. Sandoval-Absher's vehicle was minimal from the low-speed (less than 10 mph) impact. Similarly, the damage to the front of Ms. Sandoval-Absher's car was minimal. Prior to trial, defendant Oscarsson admitted liability. The case proceeded to trial with respect to damages, only.

Ms. Sandoval-Absher claimed years of pain and restricted activity following the accident, leading up to a 2016 neck surgery involving an anterior discectomy and fusion at C5-C6 and a total disc arthroplasty at C6-C7. Plaintiff also claimed the need for a future two-level lumbar spine surgery. Ms. Sandoval-Absher sought damages for past lost earnings, loss of future earning capacity, past and future medical expenses, and past and future noneconomic damages for pain and suffering. At trial, Jerry argued that the need for the surgeries and related damages were caused by a long history of pre-accident cervical and lumbar spine degeneration, not the accident.

During trial, Ms. Sandoval-Absher's counsel attempted to convince the jury that her prior complaints of neck and back pain were attributable to her condition of Bell's palsy, a disease of the seventh cranial nerve. In contrast, the defense successfully showed the jury that Ms. Sandoval-Absher's complaints of pain prior to the subject accident were in fact neck and back pain as indicated in the medical forms she filled out before the accident for her treating physicians. The defense conceded that the subject accident caused an aggravation in plaintiff's pain and symptoms in her spine, but argued that Ms. Sandoval-Absher returned to her pre-accident condition approximately eight months after the accident. During closing arguments, plaintiff's counsel requested the jury to return with a verdict of about $3 Million ($1 Million in economic damages, and $2 Million in pain and suffering), while the defense requested the jury award plaintiff up to $25,000.00 for her medical treatment attributable to the subject accident and eight months of pain and suffering. The jury adopted the defense position on damages, and returned a verdict in the amount of just $16,309. 

For additional details about this case, please contact Jerry Popovich.

 

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