Disputed liability in freeway rear-ender ends in defense verdict. Los Angeles County.


Plaintiff in rear-end freeway accident says he slowed for construction zone, but defendant says there was no construction zone.

The Case

  • Case Name: Tapia v. Orji
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC524633
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, May 21, 2015
  • Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, October 16, 2013
  • Type of Case: Vehicles - Auto vs. Auto, Vehicles - Freeway
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. John Kralik
  • Plaintiffs:
    Jose Francisco Gonzalez Tapia
    Rosalia Moya De Gonzalez
    Cecilia Gonzalez
    Brandon Gonzalez and Francisco Alexander Gonzalez, by and through their Guardian Ad Litem, Rosalia Moya De Gonzalez
  • Defendants:
    Nnamdi Arthur Orji
    Chinenye Nelson (owner of the car driven by defendant Orji.)
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: Defense verdict.
  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 8 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 1/2 hours.
  • Jury Polls: 11-1

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Quirk Law Firm, LLP by Trevor Quirk, Ventura.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Demler, Armstrong & Rowland, LLP by Bruce E. Sample, Long Beach.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    David Sciff, M.D., orthopedics, Benicia.

    Michael S. Wilson, D.C., Chiropractics, Fairfield.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Neil I. Chafetz, radiology, San Pedro.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):


  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Eugene VanderPol II, P.E., accident reconstruction and biomechanics, La Costa.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On December 10, 2011, plaintiff Jose Tapia was driving a vehicle containing his family in the number two lane on Interstate 10 on their way to Guadalajara, Mexico for a vacation. Defendant Orji's vehicle rear-ended plaintiffs' vehicle.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That plaintiff driver slowed to 20 mph on the freeway for a construction zone and was then rear-ended by defendant Orji. That impact from defendant's vehicle then pushed plaintiffs' vehicle into the vehicle ahead of theirs. That defendant fabricated his story regarding a semi-truck blocking his view and initially lied to police, claiming that he had been hit from behind  and pushed into plaintiffs' vehicle. Also, that even if defendant's view had been blocked by a semi-truck, defendant was following too closely and at an excessive speed.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That there was no construction zone present as claimed by plaintiffs. That plaintiffs' vehicle had first struck the vehicle ahead of theirs before defendant's vehicle struck plaintiffs' and that defendant's view of plaintiffs' vehicle was blocked by a semi-truck that changed lanes moments before the second rear-end collision.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Permanent cervical and lumbar injuries to all five plaintiffs. Tear of right rotator cuff for Rosalia Gonzalez. Neurological impairments and a fractured rib for Cecilia Gonzalez.

  • $7,500 for vehicle damage and items of personal property within the vehicle that was damaged during the accident.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $35,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $40,000 for right shoulder surgery for Rosalia Gonzalez and other future medical needs.
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $8,000 for Cecilia Gonzalez.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: $144,000