Sheriff's deputy's left turn causes crash. $11M. San Bernardino County.


San Bernardino resident, 65, suffers cervical and lumbar spine injuries when a Sheriff’s patrol car turns in front of him, violating his right of way.

The Case

  • Case Name: Munguia, et al. v. County of San Bernardino, et al.
  • Court and Case Number: San Bernardino County / CIVDS1900106
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Tuesday, August 22, 2023
  • Date Action was Filed: Friday, January 04, 2019
  • Type of Case: Vehicles - Left Turn
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Gilbert G. Ochoa
  • Plaintiffs:
    Florencio Munguia, 65
  • Defendants:
    County of San Bernardino
    Michael Andrade
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $11,069,517
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    $11,069,517 against defendant County of San Bernardino.

  • Economic Damages:

    Past Medical Expenses: $255,000

    Future Medical Expenses: $814,517

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past: $6,000,000

    Future: $4,000,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 3 weeks
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 4 hours

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Kramer Trial Lawyers by Daniel K. Kramer and Brandon C. Salumbides, Los Angeles.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    San Bernardino County Counsel by Tarik T. Muhtaseb, San Bernardino.

    Daniel Hill (provisionally licensed co-counsel.)

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Pablo Pazmino, M.D., orthopedic surgery.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Cary Alberstone, M.D., orthopedic surgery.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Rami Hashish, Ph.D., DPT, biomechanics.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Judson Welcher, biomechanics.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On April 24, 2018, shortly after 4 p.m., while driving a department-owned 2010 Ford Crown Victoria, San Bernardino County sheriff’s Deputy Michael Andrade made a left turn at the intersection of Pacific Street and Conejo Drive in San Bernardino, turning in front of Florencio Munguia’s 1996 Ford Taurus, which then struck Andrade’s vehicle.

    Plaintiff, 65, was driving with his wife, adult daughter, and 4-year-old grandchild.

    The collision was at approximately 40 mph and the parties stipulated to a delta-V of 9-11 mph.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiff sued defendant driver, alleging he was negligent in the operation of his vehicle, as well as San Bernardino County, alleging that as defendant driver's employers they were vicariously liable. As a result of the crash, plaintiff suffered cervical and lumbar spine injuries.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendants conceded liability, but throughout trial maintained that the forces of the crash were insufficient to cause structural failure in the spine and that plaintiff’s spinal condition was due to degeneration and not related to the crash.

    The county previously settled out of court over the injuries suffered by Munguia’s wife and daughter, but the defendants' lawyers suggested that Munguia, 65, a welder for a Rialto mechanic’s shop, had suffered his injuries before the crash.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    As a result of the crash, plaintiff suffered cervical and lumbar spine injuries for which he underwent several spinal injections, a cervical fusion, and received a recommendation for a lumbar discectomy.

    Due to his injuries, plaintiff experienced extreme pain. However, as a man of little means and the sole provider of the household, he continued to work to support his family. Plaintiff's injuries continue to hinder him from doing the things he loves and greatly reduce his quality of life.

Additional Notes

Prior plaintiff's counsel served a 998 on September 2021 for $250,000. Defendant allowed the offer to compromise lapse. 

In May of 2022, defendants served a 998 for $225,000, which plaintiff rejected. Defendant did not make any other offers through trial.