Doctor with rare medical condition says fall exacerbated his physical limitations. Defense verdict. Los Angeles County.


Doctor falls down stairs at Hooter's restaurant, claims dangerous condition. He is now wheelchair bound.

The Case

  • Case Name: Whelan v. Hollywood Wings LLC
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC690215
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, February 28, 2020
  • Date Action was Filed: Tuesday, January 16, 2018
  • Type of Case: Premises Liability
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Frederick Shaller
  • Plaintiffs:
    Vincent Whelan
  • Defendants:
    Hollywood Wings LLC
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: Defense verdict.
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    Defense verdict.

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 5 days trial and 3 days jury selection.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 and 1/2 hours.
  • Jury Polls: 10-2.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    The Simon Law Group by Eric Bell and Sophie Etemadi, Hermosa Beach.


  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Orland Law Group by James Orland and Samuel Mann, Manhattan Beach.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Kendal Wagner, orthopedic surgery.

    Fredrick Kaplan, M.D., Fibrobysplasia Ossificans Progressiva. (Treating physician.)

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Rick Sarkisian, vocational rehabilitation.

    Ed Garcia, economics.

    John Brault, biomechnics.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Farheen Khan, human factors.

    Appaji Panchangam, biomechanics.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff, a medical doctor, fell on some stairs at a Hooters Restaurant located on Hollywood Blvd. Plaintiff fractured his left femur and had catastrophic resulting injuries due to a pre-existing, rare medical condition, Fibrobysplasia Ossificans Progressiva (FOP).

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That he tripped and fell due to a dangerous condition (indentation/uneven spot) at the top of the stairs. Plaintiff was an eggshell plaintiff; a medical doctor who could no longer work as a hospitalist and could not pursue a career as a pediatric oncologist. Plaintiff claimed past and future lost wages and pain and suffering. 

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendants claimed that plaintiff did not trip, but rather, missed a step when he was inattentive. Defendant claimed that the defective condition on the top landing of the stairs was not the proximate cause of plaintiff's fall.

    Defendants argued that the future lost earnings was excessive but did not otherwise dispute plaintiff's damages.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Fractured femur. Flare-up of FOP rendering plaintiff electric-wheelchair-bound for the rest of his life.

  • Pain and suffering.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $390,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $16,000,000

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $999,000
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $30,000

Additional Notes

Plaintiff asked the jury for a $29 million verdict.

Dr. Kaplan was plaintiff's treating physician, but he was also the world's foremost leading expert in the field of study for FOP.