Distracted sheriff's deputy rear-ends woman's car. $5.2M. Orange County.


Deputy is typing on his on-board computer just before the crash.

The Case

  • Case Name: Kozy v. County Of Orange
  • Court and Case Number: Orange County Superior Court / 30-2019-01062012
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, October 27, 2022
  • Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, April 10, 2019
  • Type of Case: Negligence, Vehicles – rear-ender
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Deborah Servino
  • Plaintiffs:
    Lisa Kozy
  • Defendants:
    County of Orange
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $5,235,055.10
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    100% as to County.

  • Economic Damages:

    Past medical expenses $612,255.10

    Future medical expenses $422,800

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past: $600,000

    Future: $3,600,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 6 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 5 hours
  • Jury Polls: 10-2
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: The County intends to file a motion for a new trial based on excessive damages, and error in admission of evidence regarding past medical expenses that prevented the County from having a fair trial.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Traut Firm by Eric V. Traut and Connor J. Traut, Santa Ana.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Gutierrez Preciado & House by Calvin House, Pasadena.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Grant Shifflett, M.D., spine surgery. (Treating physician.)

    Richard Paicius, M.D., pain medicine. (Treating physician.)

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Thomas Grogan, M.D., orthopedic surgery.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff, a 50-year-old woman from Riverside, was rear-ended by an OC Deputy Sheriff in February 2019. The deputy was focused on typing his hours into his on-board computer while driving. The approach and impact were captured on his dash cam. An investigator found security cam footage of a side view of the impact sequence at a nearby home. Additionally, plaintiff was on a Bluetooth phone call with a co-worker who was recording the call because of harassing phone calls she had received in prior weeks. So in opening, plaintiff's counsel played both videos and a phone recording of the crash, crying, and moans of pain of plaintiff for a couple minutes while the friend kept asking how she was doing.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That the collision caused a 4.2 mm disc herniation at C5/6. That the disc needed to be surgically replaced.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    The plaintiff sustained a soft-tissue injury to her spine and the surgeries were solely the result of degenerative disc disease. The medical expenses were at least three times what is reasonable.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Disc herniation at C5/6.

    Plaintiff underwent three cervical surgeries at C 5/6 for a 4.2 mm herniation with fragments pressing on the nerve root and causing weakness and pain in her right arm and hand. She went to the hospital initially and was discharged with a CT that just showed degeneration and diagnosis of neck strain. She tried six months of chiro, medication, and then two epidurals by Richard Paicius, M.D. that did not work. He then referred her to spine surgeon Grant Shifflett, M.D., who performed a disc replacement surgery in August 2019. The disc then failed and surgery #2 took place in August 2021.

    Plaintiff also contracted a staph infection identified in surgery number two that was treated for months with a PICC line and antibiotics. Surgery #3 took place August 2022 to clean out the remaining infection and fuse at one level. She had a hard brace on during trial and has not even started PT yet. Plaintiff was very active prior to the crash, and despite time off following the surgeries, she has continued to work mostly from home because her employer values her so much.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $612,255.10
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $900,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: 0
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: 0

Demands and Offers

  • Defendant Final Offer before Trial: $150,000