Plumber claims disabling injuries in rear-ender, loss of business. Jury disagrees. Defense. Orange County.


Plumber says rear-ender caused disabling back injuries and the loss of his business. Defense sought to argue failure to mitigate damages because of medical services provided on liens when plaintiff had health insurance.  

The Case

  • Case Name: Azizian v. Power Engineers, Inc.
  • Court and Case Number: Orange County Superior Court / 30-2013-00646367
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, October 14, 2015
  • Date Action was Filed: Monday, April 29, 2013
  • Type of Case: Vehicles - Auto vs. Auto
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Ronald Bauer
  • Plaintiffs:
    Ara Azizian, 37, plumber
  • Defendants:
    David Hartman
    Power Engineers, Inc.
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: Defense verdict.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 50 minutes.
  • Jury Polls: 12-0
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Cost bill being filed.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Law Offices of Chambers, Noronha & Kubota by Gary Chambers and Yoshiaki Kubota, Santa Ana.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Demler, Armstrong & Rowland, LLP by Terry A. Rowland, Long Beach.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Rajun Berjis, D.C., chiropractic, Burbank.

    Vikram Singh, M.D., pain management, Glendale.

    Rad Payman, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Los Angeles.

    Kathleen Hartman, MSN, BSN, life care planning, Reno.

    John Nightingale, Ph.D., psychologist, Burbank.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Michael Wienir, M.D., neurology, Tarzana.

    Neil Chafetz, M.D., radiology, Los Angeles.

    James High, M.D., psychiatry, Westwood.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    John Brault, MS, biomechanics,  Mission Viejo.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Judd Welcher, biomechanics, Long Beach.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On June 30, 2011 defendant Hartman rear-ended 37-year-old plaintiff Azizian's stopped vehicle on the 91 Freeway.  Hartman was in course and scope of employment with defendant Power Engineers.

    Lumbar fusion was performed on plaintiff on January, 2013 by Dr. Payman and a neck surgery has also been recommended.  

    Post-accident hospital records that failed to mention any disability or pain were explained by surgeon Payman as "bogus." Payman also testified that records from physicians' assistants (P.A.s) were universally and totally unreliable. Defendant's radiologist testified there were no traumatic abnormalities in the spine, only age-consistent degeneration. Defendant's neurologist documented inconsistent effort, amplification of symptoms and found no objective abnormalities. Testing by the defense psychiatrist produced highly elevated "validity" scales.  Plaintiff was also sub-rosa videotaped doing many activities he claimed he couldn't do, including walking without a walker, driving and working.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That defendant was driving a vehicle in the course and scope of his employment when he rear-ended plaintiff.

    Plaintiff alleged a substantial impact and contended that two non-symptomatic spine conditions (spondylolisthesis and pars defects) became symptomatic after the accident (eggshell plaintiff).

    Plaintiff alleged the loss of his plumbing business due to total disability.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That the impact was minimal and insignificant when compared to plaintiff's work as a plumber.

    Defense counsel notes that all of plaintiff's doctors were on liens, however the trial court did not allow defendants to argue failure to mitigate damages based on unused available medical insurance.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Disc injuries to the low back and neck, knee injuries, shoulder injury and bilateral carpal tunnel; need for future surgery. Claimed PTSD.

  • Loss of plumbing business.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $317,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $325,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $3,957,870

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: $1,500,000
  • Plaintiff Demand during Trial: $750,000
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $95,000