Post-surgical complications disputed after admitted liability in crash. $21M. Los Angeles County.


Defendant offered to settle for $2.5 million during trial.

The Case

  • Case Name: Senon Roman et. al. v. U-Haul Company of California
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / 21 AVCV00316
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, March 03, 2023
  • Date Action was Filed: Friday, April 23, 2021
  • Type of Case: Negligence, Vehicles - Auto vs. Auto
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Stephen Morgan
  • Plaintiffs:
    Senon Roman Sr., 49
    Minor #1
    Minor #2
  • Defendants:
    U-Haul Corporation of California
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $21,231,026.54
  • Net Verdict or Award: $21,231,026.54
  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: None.
  • Economic Damages:

    To Senon Roman, Sr.

    Past medical damages: $281,026.54 (admitted by defendants)

    Future medical damages: $7,000,000

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    To Senon Roman, Sr. 

    Past non-economic damages: $1,750,000

    Future non-economic damages: $10,000,000

    To Minor #1

    Past non-economic damages: $100,000

    Future non-economic damages: $1,000,000

    To Minor #2

    Past non-economic damages: $100,000

    Future non-economic damages: $1,000,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 8 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 4 hours
  • Jury Polls: 10-2 on damages

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Law Offices of Haytham Faraj by Haytham Faraj, West Hollywood.

    Law Offices of Ted B. Wacker by Ted Wacker, Newport Beach.


  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Alston & Bird, LLP by Todd Benoff and Omar Morquecho, Los Angeles.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Douglas Smith, M.D., orthopedic surgery.

    Roberto Contreras, M.D., life care planning.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Todd Moldawer, M.D., orthopedic surgery.

    Dawn Cook, life care planning.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Stephanie Rizzardi, economics.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff was traveling in his car on Avenue J in Lancaster, along with his two children who were five and six years old at the time, when he suddenly saw a large pickup truck operated by defendant U-Haul's employee traveling towards him. The driver of the pickup truck was attempting to pass two tractor trailers. The defendant could not complete the pass and collided head on into plaintiff's small Toyota.

    Plaintiff weighed 500 pounds at the time and was considered morbidly obese. Plaintiff had also been convicted of domestic violence five times in the past and had been incarcerated on four different occasions. Motions to preclude that evidence were denied. Defense lawyers brought up the DV felony convictions in opening, closing and during examination of the plaintiff.


  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiff alleged that the initial crash and all injuries and consequential complications were caused by defendant's negligence.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant admitted liability for the crash but denied that plaintiff's complications were caused by defendant. Defendant took the position that all complications after the October 2020 post-op were caused by plaintiff's failure to follow medical advice, which was evidenced by plaintiff's own doctor's notes and in plaintiff's own treatment records, specifically that plaintiff broke the screws in his knee by continuing to walk on it against medical advice.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Plaintiff suffered a comminuted grade 6 left tibial plateau fracture, a severely dislocated right elbow and torn ligaments, a head laceration, a corcoid fracture in the left shoulder and a spinous process fracture at C7.

    The six-year-old child suffered arm fractures and the younger child suffered scrapes and bruises. All three plaintiffs suffered shock.

    The adult plaintiff was transported to Cedars Sinai where he underwent several surgeries to repair the tibial plateau fracture and the elbow. Doctors placed approximately 18 screws and three plates in his knee and tibia. Due to Covid, plaintiff was released from the hospital about ten days after the tibial plateau surgery.

    Two months after the surgery the surgeon noted that the screws were bending and breaking and wrote that the screws broke because patient failed to follow medical advice directing him to stay off the knee. A revision surgery was scheduled and performed in February 2022. The surgery resulted in infection of the site and plaintiff developed osteomyelitis. The patient required several surgical procedures to perform debridement after the osteomyelitis developed.

  • Plaintiff's expert opined that as a result of the osteomeylitis, which is incurable but controllable with antibiotics, plaintiff will likely require an amputation. Defendant challenged that opinion and maintained that the complications were directly the result of plaintiff's own failure to follow medical advice. And regardless of who is responsible for the complications, no treating doctor had recommended an amputation and plaintiff was clear that he would not undergo an amputation.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $281,026.54
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $5,772,255.81

Additional Notes

This case was complicated by the plaintiff's weight and the notes in the medical records placing blame on the plaintiff for the complications. Even though defense admitted that they caused the initial injury, the defense refused to admit that substantial factor and requested and, over objections, received CACI instruction 517 which allows a physician to raise an affirmative defense to medical negligence when the patient does not follow the physician's advice.

Plaintiff offered to settle for $8 million before trial. Plaintiff then offered a hi-lo of $2 million and $10 million. Defendant rejected all of plaintiff's proposals. Defendant offered $2 million before trial and $2.5 million after plaintiff's closing. Plaintiff sent a 998 in late 2022 for $8 million.