Truck accident injures passenger with pre-existing spinal condition. $711,000. Orange County.


Passenger in single-vehicle truck accident claims back injury but docs had told him to have surgery before the accident.  $100K offer with admitted liability.

The Case

  • Case Name: Casas v. Slaby Environmental, Inc., Robert Slaby, Julio Arias
  • Court and Case Number: Orange County Superior Court / 30-2012-00606346
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, March 14, 2014
  • Date Action was Filed: Monday, October 22, 2012
  • Type of Case: Vehicles - Freeway
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Robert M. Moss
  • Plaintiffs:
    Juan Casas, 44, independent contractor for water tank maintenance defendant
  • Defendants:
    Slaby Environmental, Inc
    Robert Slaby
    Julio Arias, driver on the job
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $711,483.31
  • Economic Damages:

    Past Medical: $37,917.31
    Future Medical: $10,000
    Past Wage Loss: $203,566
    Future Wage Loss: $160,000


  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past Non-Economic Damages: $200,000
    Future Non-Economic Damages: $100,000


  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 9 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 7 hours

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Bohm Law Group by Lawrance A. Bohm, Sacramento.

    Law Offices of Gregory R. Davenport by Gregory R. Davenport, Stockton.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Darling & Risbrough LLP by Robert Yoakum, Irvine.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Experts:
    Moris Senegor, M.D., neurosurgery (treating surgeon), Stockton.
    Edward Younger, III, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Carmichael.
  • Defendant's Medical Experts:
    Nitin Bahtia, M.D., orthopedic surgery, UC Irvine.
    Richard Rhee, M.D., radiology, UC Irvine.
  • Plaintiff's Technical Experts:
    Phillip Allmen, Ph.D., economics, Oakland.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On October 19, 2010 plaintiff Juan Casas was asleep in the passenger seat of a commercial two-axle flatbed truck when the driver of the truck lost control due to rain, causing the vehicle to hydroplane. 

    The collision occurred while on the I-5 freeway headed south just after the "Grapevine" near Tejon Ranch.  The truck spun out into the center divider, striking the passenger side of the truck cab against the cement divider. The driver and the passenger were able to exit the vehicle under their own power and were transferred to a nearby café.  While at the café, plaintiff complained of neck and back pain.  Five hours later he was treated at Henry Mayo Hospital. He refused pain medication and was released with instructions to pursue future medical care if his complaints of neck and back pain were not improved within two weeks. 

    At the time of the collision, plaintiff was working as an independent contractor for the defendant, an above-ground water tank maintenance and installation company.  The company stopped providing the services performed by plaintiff one month after the collision due to the economy. 

    Plaintiff had been initially diagnosed and treated for low back and neck problems beginning in 1993 and continuing until 2001 when a fusion surgery was first recommended by Dr. Moris Senegor.  The surgery was not performed in 2001, although it was scheduled. These prior back and neck problems were handled through the workers’ compensation system because they arose during his past employment in a Heinz warehouse.


  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That defendant driver of truck was driving too fast for the weather conditions. Plaintiff’s treating surgeon and medical expert argued that the collision caused injury and/or exacerbated injuries which were related to the workers’ compensation case of 1993.  Numerous friends and family witnesses testified to the fact that plaintiff lived pain- and symptom-free from 2002 until the collision of 2010.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant admitted liability immediately prior to trial, but disputed extent and causation of injuries.

    Contended that plaintiff’s surgeries were caused by his past employment in a Heinz warehouse and not from the collision.  Defendants relied heavily on the fact that plaintiff’s surgeon had already recommended a low back surgery and noted degenerative changes in his cervical spine.  Defendants’ medical opinion providers indicated that plaintiff did not need surgery at all and that his problems were related to the litigation and his past workers’ compensation injury.  At trial, defendant argued to provide plaintiff $0 total compensation. 

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Following the collision, plaintiff experienced persistent pain in his neck, back, knees, and arms. Pain and headaches interfered with his ability to sleep and work. After three months of chiropractic care failed to remedy the problems, plaintiff consulted with Neurosurgeon Moris Senegor (Stockton, CA). In April 2011, plaintiff received a one level cervical fusion C5/6. In July 2011, plaintiff received a two level lumbar fusion to L4/5 to L5/S1.

    After surgery, plaintiff still suffered from neck and back pain.  No surgery was ever performed on the knees due to a lack of insurance. No physical therapy was provided to plaintiff after either the neck or back surgery.


Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $999,999 (policy limit) on October 10, 2013
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $100,001 on September 11, 2013

Additional Notes

Defense Insurance Provider:  Century National Insurance Company.

Per defense counsel: Plaintiff argued for damages as follows:  Past Medical: $37,917.31 (this is the Haniff-reduced medical amount). Future Medical: $256,400.00 to $482,800.00. Past LOE: $271,408.00. Future LOE: $1,069,699. Total LOE $1,341,107.

Pain and Suffering: No specific number was mentioned but plaintiff's counsel argued for a 6 or 7 or even 8 digit number.
Plaintiff offered to go to mediation the Friday before trial if our client's opening offer was the policy limits ($1,000,000.00).
Defense counsel also says that plaintiff's experts Dr. Younger and Mr. Allman changed their deposition testimony at trial.