Punitives in freeway DUI case. $152K jury verdict. Los Angeles County.
Drunk driver rear-ends another car on freeway at 2 a.m. Moderate injuries. Plaintiffs beat their 998 offer.
- Case Name: Lawrence, et al. v. Mataele
- Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC532910
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Tuesday, May 17, 2016
- Date Action was Filed: Saturday, January 10, 2015
- Type of Case: DUI Accident, Negligence, Vehicles - Auto vs. Auto, Vehicles - Freeway, Vehicles - Lane Change, Vehicles – rear-ender
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Michele E. Flurer
Plaintiffs: Adam Lawrence, 37, location sound mixer.Gabriel Blanco, 27, producer.
Defendants: Alisi T. Mataele
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $152,220.23
$3,849.83 - Adam Lawrence
$15,370.40 - Gabriel Blanco
$40,000 - Adam Lawrence
$43,000 - Gabriel Blanco
$25,000 - Adam Lawrence
$25,000 - Gabriel Blanco
- Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Plaintiffs beat their §998. Defendant to pay plaintiffs' costs, pre-judgment interest, and post-judgment interest. Total amount defendant will pay is $214,087.50.
Attorney for the Plaintiff:
Etehad Law, APC, by Simon P. Etehad, Beverly Hills.
The Kopple Law Group, Inc., by Michael S. Kopple and Joshua L. Kopple, Los Angeles.
Attorney for the Defendant:
Gilsleider McMahon & Molinelli by Tioni A. Phan, Irvine.
Gilsleider McMahon & Molinelli by Jennifer E. Miller, Sherman Oaks.
Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
Todd Gewant, D.C., chiropractic, Santa Monica. (Treating physician.)
Dardad Mobin, M.D., neurosurgery, Beverly Hills. (Treating physician.)
Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
Jeffrey Korchek, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Los Angeles.
Neil Chafetz, M.D., radiology, Los Angeles.
Facts and Background
Facts and Background:
Plaintiffs Adam Lawrence, 37, and Gabriel Blanco, 27, were driving southbound in the number 2 lane of the I-405 at 2:00 a.m. They were traveling at approximately 50 mph just north of the Mulholland Drive exit. The southbound lane numbers 3, 4, and 5 were coned off for construction.
Plaintiffs were rear-ended by defendant who was traveling at approximately 65 mph after making an unsafe lane change from lane 1 to lane 2. Defendant was booked for Veh. Code § 23152 (DUI).
Plaintiffs contended that defendant's negligence and intoxication caused the collision and plaintiffs' injuries.
Defendant disputed the nature, severity, and cause of plaintiffs' injuries.
Injuries and Other Damages
Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:
Plaintiff Adam Lawrence experienced 3 months' worth of severe pain in his lumbar spine and sacroiliac joint, and he continued to experience lingering pain at a baseline of 1/10 to 2/10 in his lumbar spine and sacroiliac joint. As a result of these injuries, Mr. Lawrence had a diminished ability to exercise and ride bicycles; he was forced to choose jobs based on break allowances and weight of equipment he was required to operate, and he was forced to take prescription-strength medicine due to chronic pain.
Plaintiff Gabriel Blanco experienced 3 months' worth of severe pain in his cervical spine and thoracic spine, and left shoulder pain that included numbness. He underwent 9 months of rehabilitation treatment with moderate pain, and continues to experience residual pain, soreness, and tightness on an almost daily basis that ranges between 1/10 to 2/10 and, on occasion, up to 5/10 on the pain scale.
Demands and Offers
- Plaintiff §998 Demand: On 05/09/14: $49,999 per plaintiff.
- Defendant §998 Offer: On 07/01/15: $18,000 for Lawrence and $32,000 for Blanco.
Parties agreed to a pre-trial stipulation as follows: 1. Defendant's Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) was 0.13% at the time of the incident. 2. The accepted literature in the field of Forensic Toxicology indicates: (a) The average adult will sustain an increase in their BAC of approximately 0.02% per alcoholic beverage consumed; defined as one 12-ounce beer, one 4-ounce glass of wine, or a single ounce of 80-proof hard alcohol; and (b) The average adult will eliminate, metabolize, or "burn off," approximately 0.02% BAC per hour. 3. California law prohibits operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or higher.