Causation/extent of injuries disputed after defendant backs out of driveway into plaintiff's car. $165K. San Diego County.


Jury reaches fast verdict just before courthouse closes down for pandemic.

The Case

  • Case Name: Brown v. Singhal
  • Court and Case Number: San Diego Superior Court / 37-2018-00057835-CU-PA-CTL
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Monday, March 16, 2020
  • Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, November 14, 2018
  • Type of Case: Vehicles - Auto vs. Auto
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Gregory Pollack
  • Plaintiffs:
    Stephen Brown, 62.
  • Defendants:
    Aneesh Singhal
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $165,000
  • Net Verdict or Award: $176,000
  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 5 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 2-3 hours.
  • Jury Polls: 10-2

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Eugene Bruno & Associates by Eugene G. Bruno and Bassem N. Salem, San Diego.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Hartsuyker, Stratman & Williams-Abrego by Kellie B. Thompson, San Diego.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Richard Brown, M.D., orthopedic surgery. (Treating physician.)

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    David G. Smith, M.D., orthopedic surgery.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    This case arose from a two-vehicle collision which occurred on November 23, 2016 in Encinitas. The accident happened as defendant was backing out of a driveway onto the road and collided with plaintiff. The driveway was on a residential street near a worship center. Because it was the night before Thanksgiving, the street was very busy with many people walking around. 

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiff contended defendant was at fault for the collision, and that the collision caused injuries to plaintiff's head, right shoulder, right wrist, and right hip.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant admitted liability for the accident but disputed the nature and extent of plaintiff’s injuries and damages. Defendant’s medical expert testified that because he did not believe plaintiff had complained of pain to his right wrist or right hip within three weeks of the collision, that plaintiff’s right wrist and right hip injuries were likely not caused by this incident.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Plaintiff sustained injuries to his head, right shoulder, right wrist, and right hip. Plaintiff underwent an SI joint radiofrequency ablation.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $56,764.04 (Per defense counsel: $59,830.45.)
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $22,238.20 to $44,476.40 (Per defense counsel: $62,476.40.)
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: Waived at trial.
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: Waived at trial.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $500,000 on 3/19/19
  • Plaintiff Demand during Trial: Plaintiff asked jury for $1,928,087.29 during closing, per defense counsel.
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $75,000 2 weeks before trial after offering nothing previously.

Additional Notes

At the outset, Judge Pollack gave jurors the option to be dismissed from jury duty because of COVID-19. Governor Newsom had ordered the shut down into effect on March 16, 2020, which was the date of closing arguments. This was the final trial held In San Diego Superior Court before it was ordered to close.  In fact, Judge Pollack ordered the jury to deliberate inside the courtroom itself as opposed to the jury deliberation room.  
What was more interesting was the serious cause for concern among the judges. In this case, closing arguments ended mid-day on March 16. Judge Pollack instructed the jury that, should a verdict not be reached by the end of the day, he would have to decide whether he would order a mistrial, or whether he would order the jurors back to court post-pandemic. Of course, no juror would have agreed to come back at some later unknown date, so they did everything in their power to come to a verdict by the end of the day. In the meantime, Judge Pollack had both counsel present in chambers while he was back and forth with Presiding Judge Alksne to determine whether a mistrial was required for this case. With about 5 minutes (literally) left before the court closed, the jury reached a verdict.