Woman with long history of TMJ says she bit into metal ball inside a sandwich she bought at Gelson's. Defendants admitted liability, contested causation.
- Case Name: Raina Ring v. Gelson's Markets, et al.
- Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / LC099790
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, June 25, 2015
- Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
- Type of Case: Food Preparation, Products Liability
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Michael J. Convey
Plaintiffs: Raina Ring, 59, travel agent
Defendants: Gelson's Markets and Daniel's Western Meat Packing, Inc.
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $200,000
- Net Verdict or Award: $160,000 after reduction for prior settlement.
- Settlement Amount: Defendant JBS Distribution, LLC settled for $40,000 before trial per defense counsel.
- Contributory/Comparative Negligence: Prior to trial all three defendants stipulated to liability.
Plaintiff did not allege medical expenses at trial.
Past Noneconomic Damages: $100,000
Future Noneconomic Damages: $100,000
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 4 days
- Jury Deliberation Time: 2 1/2 hours
- Jury Polls: 11-1
Attorney for the Plaintiff:
Adamson Ahdoot LLP by Christopher B. Adamson, Los Angeles.
Karns & Karns by William Karns, Los Angeles.
Attorney for the Defendant:
Mark R. Weiner & Associates by Lawrence W. Dailey, Glendale.
Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
Steven B. Graff-Radford, DDS, orofacial pain management, Los Angeles.
Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
Richard Boudreau, DDS, oral surgery, Marina del Rey.
Facts and Background
Facts and Background:
Defendants at trial are a meat packing company and retail supermarket. The market sold packer's beef sandwich to the plaintiff, which had a 2 millimeter metal ball in it. Plaintiff bit down on the metal ball when she ate the sandwich. This bite aggravated a preexisting TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder plaintiff had for over 20 years.
Plaintiff admitted she had prior TMJ issues on both sides of her jaw. However, plaintiff’s bite down on the hard, metal ball caused a severe exacerbation/aggravation of her preexisting TMJ condition. This exacerbation led to a rapid degeneration of her left TMJ.
Defendants asked the jury to award $0 to plaintiff in opening statement, and $50,000 to plaintiff in closing argument.
Defendants argued plaintiff’s voluminous medical records showed she had a severe TMJ disorder before the incident. Defendants admitted medical records showing plaintiff had the following in just the 30 days before the incident: 1) severe pain in her TMJ; 2) an MRI of the TMJ; and 3) a TMJ surgical injection.
Defendants argued a one-time bite on a tiny object could not have caused the exacerbation/aggravation plaintiff claimed. Defendants argued plaintiff’s condition was caused by her own daily activity, including clenching and grinding of her teeth. In addition, defendants argued plaintiff was non-compliant with her treatment. Defendants also contended plaintiff was exaggerating her claims for money, and defendants asked the jury to award plaintiff nothing.
Per defense counsel: Defendants asked the jury to award $50,000 for past pain and suffering and nothing for future.
Injuries and Other Damages
Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:
Plaintiff suffered an exacerbation/aggravation of a preexisting TMJ condition on the left side of her jaw. At trial, plaintiff sought past and future noneconomic damages.
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: None
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: None
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: None
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: None
Demands and Offers
- Defendant §998 Offer: Defendants Gelson’s Markets and Daniel’s Western Meat Packing, Inc., served a joint 998 for $30,000.