LADWP employee crashes into motorcycle during unprotected left turn. $11M. Los Angeles County.

Summary

Driver making a left turn violates the right-of-way of a speeding motorcyclist.

The Case

  • Case Name: Dillon v. Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, et al.
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / 19STCV14977
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, March 22, 2024
  • Date Action was Filed: Tuesday, April 30, 2019
  • Type of Case: Course and scope of employment, Highlighted Verdicts, Negligence, Vehicles - Left Turn, Vehicles - Motorcycle
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Graciela Freixes
  • Plaintiffs:
    Grady Dillon
  • Defendants:
    Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
    Manuel Medina
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $11,045,000
  • Net Verdict or Award: $11,045,000
  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: None.
  • Economic Damages:

    $1,545,000

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    $9,500,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 16 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 day
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Plaintiff intends to file a motion for cost of proof sanctions after LADWP denied fault in response to requests for admissions.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Panish | Shea | Ravipudi LLP by Robert Glassman, Tom Schultz and Jon Davidi, Los Angeles.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Everett Dorey LLP by Seymour Everett and Silvia Schaffer, Irvine.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Greg Khounganian, M.D., orthopedic surgery (lumbar spine).

    James Reid, M.D., orthopedic hand surgery.

    Daniel Allison, M.D., orthopedic surgery (pelvis).

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Luke Macyszyn, M.D., neurosurgery.

    Ronald Kvitne, M.D., orthopedic surgery (wrist).

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Neil Ghodadra, M.D., life care planning.

    Rick Sarkisian, Ph.D., vocational rehabilitation.

    Peter Formuzis, Ph.D., economics.

    Steven Anderson, accident reconstruction.

    John Gardiner, Ph.D.,  biomechanics.

  • Defendant's Technical Experts:
  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Mary Jesko, life care planning.

    Harm Jansen, accident reconstruction.

    David Krauss, Ph.D., human factors.

    Michael Arrigo, medical billing.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On April 12, 2019, 38-year-old plaintiff, who worked two part-time jobs, was traveling straight on southbound Main Street in downtown Los Angeles heading towards College Avenue. It is undisputed that plaintiff was traveling 59 mph a few seconds before impact. While plaintiff was traveling down Main Street, defendant driver, driving in the course and scope of his employment with LADWP, made an unprotected left turn from College Avenue in an attempt to get onto northbound Main Street. Defendant driver failed to yield the right-of-way and plaintiff's motorcycle collided with the LADWP van.

    The incident was caught on video on a nearby surveillance camera. Plaintiff was rushed to the hospital, where he stayed for 12 days and underwent two surgeries in the first week after the incident.  He later transferred to an inpatient rehabilitation facility where he remained for nearly four months. He suffered a multitude of injuries.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That the collision was 100% the defendants' fault. Defendant had a stop sign facing him, and a duty to yield the right of way to plaintiff, who was traveling freely with no traffic controls. Defendant looked left, looked right, and then failed to look left again before proceeding, which was negligent.

    That defendant would have seen plaintiff if he had looked left because plaintiff was visible to defendant for five seconds based on the video evidence. Plaintiff's speed was not a factor in causing the collision because the collision would have happened even if plaintiff was traveling 35 mph.

    Plaintiff also contended that all injuries and surgeries were reasonable, necessary, and related to the collision. He would be unable to work full time in the future due to his injuries, and that he faces a lifetime of physical pain and mental suffering.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendants claimed that the collision was 100% plaintiff's fault due to plaintiff's speed. That defendant driver could not have seen plaintiff because he was traveling too fast, and that if he had been traveling 35 mph, the incident would have been avoided entirely and thus the collision is entirely plaintiff's fault.

    Also, that the lower back injury was not related to the collision, that plaintiff's medical bills were unreasonably high, and that plaintiff did not suffer a loss of earning capacity.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Significant fractures and injuries to his pelvis, left wrist, and lower back. He had undergone five surgeries by the time of trial. Pelvic fracture, left wrist fracture, aggravation of pre-existing L4-5 pars defect.

  • Past and future lost earnings.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $550,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $720,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $55,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $220,000