Plaintiff's TMJ is exacerbated when she bites down on metal in sandwich from market. $200K. Los Angeles County.


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.

The Case

  • 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

The Result

  • 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.
  • Economic Damages:

    Plaintiff did not allege medical expenses at trial.

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    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

The Attorneys

  • 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.

The Experts

  • 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's Contentions:

    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.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    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

  • 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.

Additional Notes

Plaintiff did not allege medical expenses at trial.

Defendants offered $50,000 to settle on the day of trial, per plaintiff counsel.  "A few days before trial," per defense counsel.