Low-speed crash at 4-way stop. $513K. Los Angeles County.


Eggshell plaintiff's car is struck at intersection at low impact.

The Case

  • Case Name: William Ochoa v. County of Los Angeles
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC688739
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Tuesday, October 29, 2019
  • Date Action was Filed: Tuesday, January 02, 2018
  • Type of Case: Negligence, Vehicles - Auto vs. Auto, Vehicles - Intersection
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Mark Borenstein
  • Plaintiffs:
    William Ochoa
  • Defendants:
    County of Los Angeles
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $513,500
  • Economic Damages:

    Property damage: $13,500

    Past medical expenses: $80,000

    Future medical expenses: $175,000

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past and future pain and suffering: $245,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 7 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 day.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Panish Shea & Boyle LLP by Jake Douglass, Los Angeles.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Collins, Collins, Muir + Stewart, LLP by Brian Stewart and Adam Ainslie, South Pasadena.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Fardad Mobin, M.D., neurosurgery, Beverly Hills.

    RIchard Emmanuel, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Culver City.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Mark Spoonamore, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Los Angeles. 

    Martin Cooper, M.D., neurosurgery, Los Angeles.

    Stephen Rothman, M.D., neuroradiology, Los Angeles.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):


  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Marc Hammastrom, accident reconstruction, Pasadena.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    61-year-old plaintiff was traveling through a four-way stop intersection in El Monte, when defendant's vehicle struck the front passenger side of plaintiff's vehicle at 8 miles per hour. The driver of defendant's vehicle was an arson investigator for Los Angeles County, in the course and scope of his employment with the County at the time of the incident. Plaintiff claimed injuries to his low back, knee, and neck.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That plaintiff sustained a low back injury, specifically an aggravation of underlying degenerative discs that caused back pain and radicular symptoms. Further, that he required future surgery, and sustained pain and suffering damages.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant admitted liability and sole responsibility, but argued that the low-speed collision did not cause any injury. Defendant did concede that the collision may have caused a soft-tissue injury only.

    Defendant also contended that no future medical care was necessary or related to the collision, and asked the jury to return a verdict of less than $15,000.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Low back pain with radiculopathy ultimately leading to microdiscectomy surgery.

    Plaintiff had a degenerative disc disease, causing him to be an “eggshell” plaintiff.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: $900,000
  • Defendant Final Offer before Trial: Originally $10,000, then $15,000 after plaintiff's demand.