MIST double-impact rear-ender, directed verdict on causation. $40K. San Diego County.


Inattentive driver rear-ends another vehicle.

The Case

  • Case Name: Robinson v. Gertonson
  • Court and Case Number: San Diego Superior Court/ 37-2016-00033272-CU-PA-CTL
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Tuesday, April 03, 2018
  • Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, September 26, 2018
  • Type of Case: MIST (Minor impact, soft tissue), Vehicles – rear-ender
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Timothy B. Taylor
  • Plaintiffs:
    Jennifer Robinson, 42, yoga instructor.
  • Defendants:
    Deborah Gertonson
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $40,000
  • Net Verdict or Award: $40,000
  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: None.
  • Economic Damages:

    Past medical: $7,000

    Future medical: $4,000

    Past lost earnings: $10,000

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past: $13,000

    Future: $6,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 2 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 3 hours.
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: None.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Rejali Law Firm, APC by Omid Rejali, San Diego.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:
  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Hartsuyker, Stratman & Williams-Abrego by Christopher Edwards, San Diego.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    James Dilliard, D.C., chiropractic, El Cajon. (Treating physician.)

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):


Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On September 25, 2014 plaintiff  was rear-ended by defendant on Los Coches Road, in La Mesa. At the time of the crash, plaintiff's vehicle was traveling approximately 20 to 25 mph when defendant, rear-ended plaintiff at approximately 15 mph. Defendant then mistakenly put her foot on the gas and ran into plaintiff’s vehicle a second time. During the second crash, plaintiff’s vehicle was at a complete stop. 

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That plaintiff's spinal injuries were caused by defendant driver's negligence; that at time of impact, defendant admitted looking down to make sure she had her bags with her because she was going shopping.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That plaintiff did not suffer any damages, and if she did, they were minor strains to her neck that she should have recovered from within four to six weeks.

    Liability was admitted, but plaintiff failed to mitigate her damages by seeking only chiropractic care for the first two and one-half  years following the accident; that her demands for future special damages and general damages were unreasonable.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Plaintiff sustained a disk bulge to her C5-C6 region as a result of the crash and sought treatment for two and half years with her chiropractor Dr. James Dilliard.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $7,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $10,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $250,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: None.

Additional Notes

Per plaintiff's counsel:

The court did not allow the defense to call any of its witnesses due to unavailability. Plaintiff's counsel had discussed the issue of unavailability of the witnesses with defense counsel. Defense counsel refused to cooperate with the plaintiff as to her request to allow a defense expert to go out of order to accommodate plaintiff's expert's scheduling.

As a result, plaintiff was able to contact her treating chiropractor to testify; however, since defense did not have any witness to call, the court forced them to rest. Plaintiff's counsel also requested a directed verdict on the issue of causation, which was granted by the court because the defense had not presented any evidence to contradict plaintiff's contentions. No post-judgment motions were filed and the case has been fully resolved.

Per defense counsel:

During the trial, the court declined both parties’ requests for continuances to accommodate expert scheduling. As a result both parties were forced to rest without the presentation of orthopedic expert testimony and plaintiff was only able to call one expert witness, her treating chiropractor. During the closing plaintiff's counsel asked for $800,000 but was awarded $40,000, which encompasses 5% of their closing demand. No post-judgment motions were filed and the case has been fully resolved.