Plaintiff beat 998 after a stairway fall. $1.5M. Los Angeles County.


Plaintiff thinks she is stepping into a closet, but it is a steep stairwell.

The Case

  • Case Name: Gilda De Paz v. VPMG 1772 Preuss, LLC; Vivian Aryeh, an individual, and Does 1 through 50 inclusive
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC587438
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, April 14, 2017
  • Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, July 08, 2015
  • Type of Case: Premises Liability, Trip and Fall
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Margaret L. Oldendorf
  • Plaintiffs:
    Gilda De Paz, 66.
  • Defendants:
    VPMG 1772 Preuss, LLC
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $1,500,000 verdict
  • Settlement Amount: Defendant Aryeh paid $300,000 policy limits before trial.
  • Economic Damages:

    Plaintiff waived her economic damages at trial.

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past non-economic damages: $1,250,000

    Future non-economic damages: $250,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 4 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 day.
  • Jury Polls: 11-1 for $1,250,000 in past non-economic; 9-3 for $250,000 in future non-economic.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Liddy Law Firm by Donald G. Liddy and Paula Jovell, Pasadena.

    Shoop | A Professional Law Corporation by David R. Shoop, Beverly Hills.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Cohen & Burge LLP by Darren G. Burge, Thousand Oaks. (For VPMG 1772 Preuss, LLC.)

    Stephanie Duran Elie, Los Angeles. (For Vivian Aryeh.)

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Charles N. Moon, M.D., Los Angeles. (Treating orthopedic surgeon.)

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Ranjan Gupta, MD, defense medical examination, orthopedic surgery, Irvine.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On the February 10, 2015, tenant Vivan Aryeh hired plaintiff to do housekeeping work on the premises owned by defendant VPMG. Plaintiff stepped into what she thought was a closet and fell down stairs into the basement. Plaintiff broke her right humerus, right elbow and left wrist. She underwent open reduction and internal fixation.

    Plaintiff accepted the policy limits of Aryeh in the amount of $300,000 just before trial. The trial went forward against VPMG Inc.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiff claimed the stairway was too steep and lacked an appropriate handrail. Plaintiff claimed defendants knew of the dangerous condition but failed to warn or make safe.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendants contended that they took reasonable precautions to prevent access to the basement stairs through use of a door and deadbolt lock, but admitted liability before trial.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Plaintiff required a three-day hospital stay and assistance with daily activities for several months post-accident. The treating surgeon and defense surgeon agreed that plaintiff attained full functional range of motion.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: Policy limit of $1,000,000.
  • Defendant §998 Offer: VPMG: $200,001.

Additional Notes

Insurer: Aspen American Insurance.

Plaintiff waived her economic loss and the settling defendant was not placed on the special verdict. Therefore, there is no reduction for the $300,000.00 pre-trial settlement.

Per plaintiff's counsel, CCP 998, prejudgment interest of $223,123.00 and costs of $67,757.53 will be added to the judgment.