Defense verdict after policy limit offer of $50k was refused in rear-ender with disputed causation. San Diego County.


Freeway rear-ender injures plaintiff, age 50, with long history of back pain complaints.  Liability admitted but causation and extent of injuries disputed. 

The Case

  • Case Name: Juvenal Hernandez v. Juan Pacheco
  • Court and Case Number: San Diego Superior Court /37-2011-00102264
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Tuesday, April 16, 2013
  • Date Action was Filed: Friday, December 09, 2011
  • Type of Case: Vehicles - Auto vs. Auto, Vehicles - Freeway
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Ronald L. Styn
  • Plaintiffs:
    Juvenal Hernandez, 50
  • Defendants:
    Juan Pacheco
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: Defense verdict, no causation.
  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 5 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 30 minutes
  • Jury Polls: 11-1 no causation
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Defendant will seek expert fees and costs for beating the CCP 998 offer. That judgment will be partially offset by Plaintiff's stipulated award of $11,335 which arose out of negotiations for reduction of medical specials under Howell v. Hamilton Meats.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:
    Law Office of Michael E Moore by Michael E. Moore, San Diego.
    Law Office of Frank De Santis by Frank De Santis and Thomas De Santis, Chula Vista.
  • Attorney for the Defendant:
    Law Offices of Scott D. Schabacker by Scott D. Schabacker, San Diego.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Experts:
    John Finkenberg, M.D., orthopedic surgery, San Diego
  • Defendant's Medical Experts:
    Howard Tung, M.D., neurosurgery, San Diego

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff and defendant were involved in an automobile collision on Interstate 8 in San Diego on April 29, 2011. The defendant's Nissan rear-ended the plaintiff's Oldsmobile (Delta V estimated at 12-14mph). The defense admitted liability but contested causation and damages. 

    Plaintiff, a Hispanic male with a second grade education who testifed through an interpreter, had been on SSI Disability since 2001.  He was obese and had been seen repeatedly, for years before the accident, by health-care providers for complaints of chronic back pain. 


  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That the accident aggravated his pre-existing chronic spinal pain and necessitated two spine surgeries and forced him to incur medical bills of $170,000.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That the plaintiff asserted pre-existing symptoms and a prior injury from a protracted 2000-2005 worker's compensation claim,  and that plaintiff's chronic pain pattern before the accident was the same as the symptoms reported after the accident. That as a result of the accident, plaintiff should not have required anything more then non-surgical treatment for a sprain or strain.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Plaintiff claimed neck and back injuries and two spine operations. He had a cervical fusion at C4-5 and a lumbar laminectomy at L4-5. He also had extensive medical treatment, chiropractic care, injections and four MRI studies.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $170,000 reduced to $61,000 under Howell v. Hamilton Meats.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $175,000.
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $50,000 policy limit.

Additional Notes

The plaintiff demanded more than the defendant's insurance policy limits. The policy limit offer was tendered repeatedly.