Plaintiff physician claims accident caused TBI. Defense verdict. Contra Costa County.


Pediatrician suffers a head injury in collision at an intersection, blames other driver.

The Case

  • Case Name: Ishai v. Cheonis
  • Court and Case Number: Contra County Superior Court / MSC17-01159
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, April 14, 2023
  • Date Action was Filed: Monday, June 19, 2017
  • Type of Case: Loss of Consortium, Negligence, Vehicles - Intersection
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Danielle Douglas
  • Plaintiffs:
    Debra Weiss-Ishai
    Sagiv Weiss-Ishai
  • Defendants:
    Merry P. Cheonis
    Ernest Cheonis
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: Defense verdict
  • Net Verdict or Award: $39,518 in costs awarded to defendants
  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 10 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 7 hours
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Plaintiffs' motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict was denied. Plaintiffs' motion for new trial was denied. Defendants' motion for costs was granted.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Law Offices of Edward J. Nevin by Edward J. Nevin, Petaluma.

    Law Office of James K. Moore, Inc. by James K. Moore, Auburn.

    Traut Firm by Eric V. Traut, Santa Ana.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Bledsoe, Diestel, Treppa & Crane LLP by James M. Treppa and Holly A. Graves, San Francisco.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Gary M. Abrams, M.D., neurology.

    James C. Wilson, Ph.D., neuropsychology.

    Sharon Perlman Berry, Psy.D., psychology.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Sandra L. Shefrin, M.D., neurology.

    John M. Greene, M.D., psychology.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Ted Kobayashi, M.S., accident reconstruction.

    Barry Ben-Zion, Ph.D., economics.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Kirstin White, M.S., P.E., accident reconstruction.

    Eric J. Drabkin, Ph.D., economics.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiffs alleged a negligence cause of action against defendants stemming from a motor vehicle collision occurring on July 15, 2015. Plaintiffs alleged defendant drove through the intersection, causing the subject accident plaintiffs’ personal injury.

    Defendants denied liability for the accident and asserted plaintiff’s own conduct caused the subject accident, which was confirmed when it was determined through verifiable data that plaintiff ran the stop sign at the intersection just prior to the subject accident. The data from plaintiff’s vehicle also revealed an unexplainable wheel turn which defendants contended was an indication of inattention while operating her vehicle.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That defendant driver's negligence caused the collision. That plaintiff medical doctor, a pediatrician, suffered a mild traumatic brain injury, which prevented her from performing her medical professional duties at the same capacity as prior to the incident. Her husband alleged loss of consortium in the loss of home services due to his wife's traumatic brain injury and cognitive defects.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That plaintiff driver was the sole cause of the subject accident and injuries and damages stemming therefrom by failing to stop at the intersection prior to proceeding straight. Despite plaintiff's continued assertion and belief she did stop to ensure safety, the data from her vehicle confirmed she did not stop and there was an unexplained turn of the wheel prior to the impact, which defendants contended was an indication of inattentiveness.

    Defendants further alleged the subject accident was not the cause of plaintiffs' alleged workplace insufficiencies or loss-of-consortium claims.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Plaintiff alleged a traumatic brain injury.

  • The alleged traumatic brain injury caused cognitive deficiencies preventing plaintiff from performing some of her duties both at work and at home.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $813,669
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $3,105,469

Additional Notes

Plaintiffs sought $896,000 in past non-economic damages and $1,810,040 in future non-economic damages. Total amount requested from the jury was $6.7 million.