Driver overreacts to being cut off by unknown driver, collides with plaintiff. $76,984 net. Orange County.


An unkown driver cuts across two lanes of traffic, cutting off defendant driver who swerves and strikes plaintiff driver.  Defendant found 50% negligent.  $76,984 net after 50% comparative negligence by unknown driver.

The Case

  • Case Name: Estora Pugh v. Jillann Benson
  • Court and Case Number: Orange County Superior Court / 30-2011-00491993
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Tuesday, May 28, 2013
  • Date Action was Filed: Monday, July 18, 2011
  • Type of Case: Vehicles - Auto vs. Auto, Vehicles - Lane Change
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. James DiCesar
  • Plaintiffs:
    Estora Pugh, 60
  • Defendants:
    Jillann Bensen
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $89,484
  • Net Verdict or Award: $76,984
  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: Unidentified 3rd Car: 50% Responsible
  • Economic Damages:

    Medical Specials: $37,864

    Loss of Earnings: $26,619

  • Non-Economic Damages:


  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 5 Days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 4 Hours
  • Jury Polls: 11-1 on liaiblity; 11-1 on damages
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Plaintiff's Memo of Costs (pending)

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:
    Bisnar | Chase, LLP by H. Gavin Long, Newport Beach.
  • Attorney for the Defendant:
    Michael Maguire & Associates by Steven Trotter, Costa Mesa.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Experts:
    Steven Becker, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Irvine.
    Khang Lai, D.O., pain management, Irvine.
  • Defendant's Medical Experts:
    Michael Weinstein, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Newport Beach.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On Sept. 22, 2009, in the Tustin Marketplace, defendant was northbound on Jamboree in the number two lane when she was cut off by another vehicle traveling in the third lane that crossed over three lanes to make a left turn in front of her vehicle.

    Defendant swerved in an attempt to avoid hitting the vehicle, in turn, striking the car of plaintiff. The third vehicle, which cut off defendant's car, left the scene of the incident.

    Plaintiff declined treatment at the scene, but reported hip pain a month after the accident. An x-ray four months after the accident showed that she had suffered a hairline fracture in her hip.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Defendant overreacted to the car that cut her off: Without looking, she swerved into the lane next to her and collided with the plaintiff's vehicle.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That defendant was not negligent because of the "sudden emergency" created by the third car (the unknown driver) that cut her off. That she would have been hit if she did not swerve. The police report attributed a statement to plaintiff essentially stating that she took evasive action as well because she anticipated the defendant would take evasive action in response to being cut off. 

    Defendant also contested the nature and extent of injury; that this was a minor impact collision that could not have caused a hip fracture.  Further, that medical records suggested plaintiff's inability to work was due to work issues and not the accident.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Neck, back and shoulder injuries requiring treatment and therapy. A hairline hip fracture to the hip requiring surgery.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $66,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $20,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $71,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $10,000

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: $250,000
  • Defendant Final Offer before Trial: $15,000

Additional Notes

This was the underlying incident that led to a pending defective hip replacement (Depuy) case against Johnson and Johnson in LA Superior Court.