Arbitration award of $151,143 net after dispute over extent of injuries. Los Angeles County.


Collision with underinsured motorist results in causation dispute with insurer.

The Case

  • Case Name: Caitlin Owens v. Allstate Indemity Company
  • Court and Case Number: Judicate West Case No. A190043-33
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, May 29, 2014
  • Date Action was Filed: Tuesday, March 26, 2013
  • Type of Case: Underinsured Motorist, Vehicles - Left Turn
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Darrel Forgey, Esq.
  • Plaintiffs:
    Caitlin Owens, 24, publicist
  • Defendants:
    Allstate Indemnity Company
  • Type of Result: Arbitration Award

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $167,283.81
  • Net Verdict or Award: $151,143.81
  • Economic Damages:

    Awarded past medical bills of $27,110.48 and future medical bills of $15,173.33.

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Awarded $125,000 for past and future general damages.

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 1 Day
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Plaintiff submitted a Memorandum of Costs

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Pocrass & De Los Reyes LLP by James L. Pocrass and Jonathan Howell, Los Angeles.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Hanger, Steinberg, Shapiro & Ash by Paul Ash and Benson Chan, Woodland Hills.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Experts:
    Jacob Tauber, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Los Angeles. (Plaintiff's treating physician.)
  • Defendant's Medical Experts:
    Thomas Grogan, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Los Angeles.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On Sept. 16, 2009 at approximately 12:20 a.m., plaintiff Caitlin Owens was traveling to her Los Angeles home after visiting a friend. At the time of the incident she was 24 years old. Ms. Owens had a green light as she traveled westbound on Franklin Boulevard at its intersection with Highland Avenue. She intended to turn left and to head southbound on Highland Avenue.

    As plaintiff made her left turn, an under-insured motorist (UIM), Yehoran Efratl, ran a red light and struck plaintiff's car. The heavy impact caused plaintiff's car to spin around and to sustain considerable damage. As the car spun, plaintiff's body and head came in contact with the interior of the car, causing her head to hit the driver's side window.

    Immediately following the accident, plaintiff reported to Cedars-Sinai Emergency Room, where she complained of pain on the left side of her body, left neck strain, a left chest wall contusion, a contusion to the upper left partial aspect of her head, and shoulder pain.

    Plaintiff began a course of conservative treatment including acupuncture, massages, and chiropractic treatment. When the pain did not subside, she sought a consultation with orthopedist Dr. Andrew Weiss, who recommended physical therapy. After completing a course of therapy with a chiropractor, plaintiff received no treatment for a year, with the exception of two acupuncture treatments. Plaintiff returned to Dr. Weiss, who treated her with subacromial steroid injections and further physical therapy for the impingement syndrome. He did not make any diagnosis of thoracic outlet syndrome or suspect a labral tear.

    Although plaintiff received relief from the injections, her pain did not resolve. Plaintiff sought a second opinion at Santa Monica Orthopedic Group, where she was diagnosed with a suspected labral tear and impingement syndrome. During this time, plaintiff underwent medical imaging, which did not show the suspected labral tear. After conservative treatment failed,plaintiff underwent a left shoulder arthroscopic type 2 SLAP repair and direct posterior labral tear repair performed by Dr. Justin Saliman at Cedars-Sinai on Oct. 2, 2012.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That the treatment that plaintiff received was necessary and reasonable due to the injuries she sustained. This treatment included acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, massages, physical therapy, orthopedic consultations, diagnostic imaging, seven subacromial injections, SLAP repair surgery on Oct. 2, 2012, and post operative treatment. Plaintiff requires ongoing treatment for the injuries she sustained in the subject accident, including a subacromial decompression surgery, post operative treatment, and pain management.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    The defense expert, Dr. Thomas Grogan, testified that plaintiff only suffered impingement syndrome and an aggravation of a pre-existing thoracic outlet syndrome. He said the cause of her ongoing complaints was a condition pre-existing the collision and likely due to plaintiff's history of competitive swimming.

    The defense also pointed out that Ms. Owens had numerous lengthy gaps in treatment, including a one-year gap in 2010 and a six-month gap in 2012 before the shoulder surgery. Part of the basis of Dr. Grogan's opinions was that the labral tear was not diagnosed, or even suspected, for a year-and-a-half after the accident.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Symptoms of labral tears, impingement syndrome/bursitis of the left shoulder, and thoracic outlet syndrome.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $40,655.73
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $45,525

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $165,000
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $75,000