Server, age 59, tripped up at charity function. $1.3 million. Los Angeles County.


Plaintiff server at Spago in Beverly Hills trips over a tripod at a banquet, sues the videographer who set it up.

The Case

  • Case Name: Cynthia Forgays v. Jorge Vivo
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC549455
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, August 31, 2017
  • Date Action was Filed: Friday, June 20, 2014
  • Type of Case: Trip and Fall
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. John J. Kralik
  • Plaintiffs:
    Cynthia Forgays, 59, restaurant server.
  • Defendants:
    Jorge Vivo
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $1,321,511
  • Net Verdict or Award: $908,440 (Reduced due to finding of fault by two non-parties - 40%.)
  • Economic Damages:

    Past medical: $34,085
    Past loss of earnings: $182,884
    Future loss of earnings: $254,542

  • Non-Economic Damages:


  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 1 week.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 day.
  • Jury Polls: 12-0

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Law Offices of Joseph Daniel Davis by Joseph Daniel Davis, Pasadena.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Tharpe & Howell, LLP by Paul Wayne, Sherman Oaks.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    N. Grewal, M.D., surgery, Beverly Hills.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Nicholas Rose, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Newport Beach.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    David Fractor, economics, Pasadena.
    Brad Avrit, safety engineering, Marina del Rey.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Jubin Merati, economics, Los Angeles.
    John Tyson, engineering, Encino.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On October 24, 2013, a charity dinner and auction was being held at Spago restaurant in Beverly Hills. Outside vendors placed TV monitors and speaker stands throughout the restaurant. Plaintiff had been a server at Spago for over 12 years and regularly earned $50,000 plus. Plaintiff tripped over a tripod leg supporting the speaker stand supplied by the audio consultant, defendant Jorge Vivo. Plaintiff was carrying several dinner plates at the time.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That the speaker was unnecessarily placed in the walkway where servers would be walking to and from the kitchen and that the black leg over which she tripped was largely invisible during the nighttime auction. Moreover, the leg protruding into the walkway needed to be marked with reflective paint or tape to make it visible.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That it was the responsibility of Spago restaurant and the event production company to maintain patron and worker safety. (Spago was not a defendant at trial.)

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Plaintiff suffered severe lacerations of her right forearm which resulted in a surgery and then 18 months of rehabilitation. Despite all treatment, plaintiff still cannot make a fist with her right major hand.

  • Plaintiff has been unable to return to work and carry out her duties as a server. Because plaintiff is nearly 60 years old, with no expectations of returning to work as a server, she is seeking a less demanding profession.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: March 2, 2016 - $750,000
  • Defendant §998 Offer: May 20, 2016 - $45,001; April 11, 2017 - $175,001