Jones Act negligence by City of Long Beach. $5.4M. Los Angeles County.


Port of Long Beach police officer is injured while boarding a vessel.

The Case

  • Case Name: James Peterson v. City of Long Beach
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC645456
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, March 21, 2019
  • Date Action was Filed: Friday, December 30, 2016
  • Type of Case: Maritime (See also "Boating")
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Maurice Leiter
  • Plaintiffs:
    James Peterson, 45.
  • Defendants:
    City of Long Beach
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $5,447,664
  • Net Verdict or Award: $5,447,664
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    Defendant City of Long Beach was 100% at fault. At trial, defendant stipulated to liability under the Federal Jones Act and Federal common law of unseaworthiness.

  • Economic Damages:

    Past loss of earnings: $342,000

    Future loss of earnings: 1,648,794

    Future medical expenses: $340,204

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past non-economic: $1,637,500

    Future non-economic: $1,479,166

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 10 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 2 days.
  • Jury Polls: 12-0 economic damages, 11-1 non-economic damages.
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: None to date.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Krissman & Silver, LLP by Joel Krissman, Long Beach.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith by David Russo and Lynn Krieger, San Francisco.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Michael Danto, M.D., physical medicine/rehabilitation, Orange.

    Jeffrey Deckey, M.D., spinal surgery, Orange.

    Alexander Francini, physical medicine/rehabilitation, Gardenia.

    Christopher Ingalls, Ph.D., psychology, Newport Beach.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Geoffrey  Miller, M.D., spinal surgery, El Segundo.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Peter Formuzis, PhD., economics, Santa Ana.

    Carol Hyland, vocational rehabilitation, care costs, Oakland.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Darryl Zengler, M.A., economics, Pasadena.

    Edward Bennett, vocational rehabilitation, Santa Barbara.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff was a Long Beach police department port patrol division officer who was injured in a vessel-boarding accident on February 23, 2016. Plaintiff brought suit against the City of Long Beach, owner/operator of the vessel and police dock, under federal maritime law for Jones Act negligence and common law unseaworthiness. Defendant denied liability before trial and then admitted liability before jury selection.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    The case was tried on damages.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    The case was tried on damages. Defendant disputed the nature and extent of damages.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Two surgeries consisting of an initial anterior cervical disectomy and fusion at C-4 to C-6 which went to non-union and a successful posterior fusion at the same levels. Spinal cord injury/myelopathy due to disc extrusion and compression resulting in right foot altered gait impairment, use of orthotics and fatigue. Plaintiff claimed the likely need for future adjacent cervical segment spinal fusion at one level as well as follow-up care for his spinal damage injury in a life care plan costed out at $340,204, which was awarded by the jury.

  • Plaintiff's injuries required that he be medically retired from the police department. Plaintiff returned to modified work in the sports fishing industry.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: Past medical bill were paid by the defendant and not submitted into evidence.
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $340,204
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $342,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $1,883,044