Woman slips on recently mopped floor at buffet restaurant while the manager is present. Defendants dispute injury, claim case was built up.
- Case Name: Oliva v. Sapporo Seafood, Inc.
- Court and Case Number: Riverside Superior Court / RIC1901251
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, March 10, 2023
- Date Action was Filed: Monday, February 04, 2019
- Type of Case: Slip and Fall
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Irma Asberry
Plaintiffs: Sahar Oliva
Defendants: Sapporo Seafood, Inc.
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $806,000
- Contributory/Comparative Negligence: None.
$200,000 past medical expenses $100,000 future medical expenses
$200,000 past non-economic damages $306,000 future non-economic damages
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 13 days
- Jury Deliberation Time: 1.5 days
- Jury Polls: 9-3 on all questions
Attorney for the Plaintiff:
Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP by Jon Davidi, Los Angeles.
Vaziri Law Group by Mark Giannamore, Los Angeles.
Attorney for the Defendant:
Macdonald & Cody, LLP by Scott Macdonald, Joseph Fitzgerald and Michael Moon, Irvine.
Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
Alexander Taghva, M.D., neurosurgery.
Babak Samimi, M.D., orthopedics.
Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
Joshua Prager, M.D., pain management.
Michael Einbund, M.D., orthopedics.
Jay Tsuruda, M.D., radiology.
Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):
Mark Burns, accident reconstruction.
Kelly Nasser, life care planning.
Defendant's Technical Expert(s):
Henry Lubow, M.D., medical billing.
Facts and Background
Facts and Background:
Plaintiff and her two daughters were visiting Sapporo Seafood Buffet in Corona for dinner. Around closing time, plaintiff wanted to buy some sushi from the buffet bar to take home for her son. There was a language barrier with the employee at the buffet, so she went to get the manager to assist. During the 30 seconds she went to go get the manager, a Sapporo employee mopped the floor. There were no warning cones or caution signs.
As plaintiff was following the manager back to the sushi buffet, she slipped and fell on the wet floor. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital where she complained of knee pain and left shoulder pain. As time passed, she started feeling low-back discomfort, and then low-back pain. She visited an orthopedist and complained of low-back pain four months after the fall. After conservative measures failed, plaintiff underwent a spinal cord stimulator trial, approximately three years after the fall. The trial was successful and she proceeded with the permanent implant.
Plaintiff's low-back injury was related to the fall. She did not complain of low-back pain initially because the pain in her knee was severe enough to distract her from pain in other parts of her body. She had also recently had shoulder surgery for an unrelated incident, and her concern for her shoulder injury was another reason why she did not complain about back pain immediately.
As plaintiff continued treating for her knee injury, the pain in her leg was not resolving. Her treating doctor then recommended an EMG of her lower back, which showed an objective positive finding of radiculopathy coming from her lower back and down her left leg. All of plaintiff's treatment for her left knee and her lower back was reasonable, necessary, and related to the fall. She would also need future treatment for the management of her spinal cord stimulator.
Plaintiff's lower-back injury was not related to the fall. The first doctor she complained to about back pain came four months after the fall, and plaintiff was referred to that doctor by her attorneys. Plaintiff was seen by medical providers on 11 occasions prior to that, and never once mentioned low-back pain. The first orthopedist she saw for low-back pain stated that her MRI was normal and that she was not a candidate for further invasive treatment. Plaintiff did not complete nearly enough physical therapy to justify the implantation of a spinal cord stimulator. She only visited a physical therapist three times before undergoing the procedure.
Defendant claimed that there were several other gaps in treatment and inconsistencies in plaintiff's testimony and her alleged injuries. Defendant conceded that the knee injury was related to the fall, but disputed that all of the treatment, including the PRP injections, were reasonable and necessary. Defendant also contended that plaintiff testified she suffers from an auto-immune condition, which causes her pain on a regular basis and leaves her bedridden 20 times a year for two-to-three days each time. This pain affects her daily activities more than any alleged low-back pain.
Injuries and Other Damages
Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:
Lumbar radiculopathy, left knee pain.
Demands and Offers
- Plaintiff §998 Demand: $1,000,000
- Defendant §998 Offer: $250,000, reduced to $200,000 before closing argument.