Right of way contested in left-turn collision. $11M. Los Angeles County.


Liability is contested at controlled intersection after T-bone accident; insurer initially refuses $15K policy limits demand.

The Case

  • Case Name: Norma McPhoy v. Luis Antonio Mendez Ramirez, et al.
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC628805
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, September 18, 2019
  • Date Action was Filed: Friday, July 29, 2016
  • Type of Case: Vehicles - Auto vs. Auto, Vehicles - Intersection, Vehicles - Left Turn
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. H. Chester Horn Jr.
  • Plaintiffs:
    Norma McPhoy, retired nurse.
  • Defendants:
    Luis Antonio Mendez Ramirez, vehicle driver.
    Jorge Torres, vehicle owner.
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $11,061,472
  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: The jury found that defendant Ramirez was 70 percent negligent and plaintiff McPhoy was 30 percent negligent.
  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 7 1/2 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 3 hours liability; 2 1/2 hours damages.
  • Jury Polls: 12-0 (Ramirez's negligence); 10-2 (McPhoy's negligence); 10-2 (comparative liability); 12-0 (future medical expenses); 9-3 (past pain and suffering); 9-3 (future pain and suffering).

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Law Firm of Joseph H. Low IV by Joseph H. Low IV, Long Beach.

    Diana S. Diskin, Los Angeles.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Tseng & Associates by Hugh Daniel Burrows and Jennifer T. Tseng, Thousand Oaks.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
    Jonathan Eskenazi, M.D. - neurology
    Bradley Jabour, M.D. - neuro-radiology
    Stepan Kasminian, M.D. - orthopedics
    Prosper Benhaim, M.D. - hand surgery
  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
    Kenneth Sabbag, M.D. - hand surgery
  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):
    Ted Kobayashi - accident reconstruction
  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):
    Jai Singh - accident reconstruction

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On April 6, 2016, at 11:30 a.m., 70-year-old plaintiff was in the left-turn lane on southbound Prairie Avenue in Inglewood, waiting to turn left onto eastbound Pincay Drive. She entered the intersection on a green light and waited for opposing traffic to clear. The light cycled to red. Plaintiff started to complete her left turn to move out of the way of cross traffic. Defendant driver, in a vehicle registered to another defendant, was driving northbound on Prairie Avenue. He entered the intersection and T-boned plaintiff's vehicle while she was turning.

    Both vehicles were totaled. The investigating LAPD officer took a statement from defendant driver, who claimed he entered the intersection on a green light. No statement was taken from plaintiff and no witnesses were identified. There was no evidence to determine the color of the light at the time of the collision. The investigating officer determined that plaintiff caused the collision.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiff alleged that she entered the intersection on a green light and, when the light cycled to red, she had the right of way to complete her left turn.

    Plaintiff further alleged that defendant driver sped up in an attempt to "beat the red," thus causing the collision.


  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant contended that he had the right of way and that the collision occurred when the traffic lights for north and southbound Prairie Avenue were green.

    Defendant disputed plaintiff's past and future pain and suffering and future medical expenses, and asked the jury to limit their award to only past medical expenses.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Plaintiff lost consciousness at impact and was transported to UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center, where she was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury, a degloved left hand, and a fracture of the C6 superior articular process, all requiring extensive past and future medical care. Defendant disputed plaintiff's past and future pain and suffering and future medical expenses, and asked the jury to limit their award to only past medical expenses.

Additional Notes

The case was bifurcated.

Plaintiff made a pre-litigation demand for the $15,000 policy limits but the insurer rejected the demand. Several months after litigation commenced, the defense made a CCP 998 demand to settle for the policy limits. The defense refused to negotiate above the policy limits.