Motorcycle hit by slow-moving Ford Edge as driver exits parking lot. $2.69M. San Diego County.


Motorist exiting driveway says she couldn't see the oncoming motorcycle because of parked cars.

The Case

  • Case Name: Matthew Shapiro v. Otsuka Pharmaceutical
  • Court and Case Number: San Diego Superior Court / 37-2020-00017371-CU-PA-CTL
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, August 30, 2023
  • Type of Case: Vehicles - Motorcycle
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Richard Whitney
  • Plaintiffs:
    Matthew Shapiro
  • Defendants:
    Otsuka Pharmaceutical
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $2,696,600
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    The jury found that defendant’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing harm to plaintiff. 

  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: 0% to plaintiff
  • Economic Damages:

    Future: $269,600

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past: $400,000

    Future: $2,000,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 6 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 1/2 days

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Hepburn, Hernandez & Jung Trial Attorneys by Elliott H. Jung, Carlsbad.

    Hepburn, Hernandez & Jung Trial Attorneys by Michael P. Hernandez, La Jolla.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    WFBM, LLP by John A. Kaniewski and Raquel Howard, Irvine.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    William Tontz, M.D., orthopedic surgery, San Diego.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Brad Cohen, M.D., orthopedic surgery.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Will Valdez, accident reconstruction, biomechanical factors.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):


Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Defendant was driving a Ford Edge, waiting to pull out of a shopping center onto a one-way road. Plaintiff, a 40-year-old self-employed man, was coming to a stop at an intersection when defendant pulled out of the driveway and crashed into plaintiff’s motorcycle. Plaintiff fell off the motorcycle and landed on his left shoulder. Plaintiff rode his motorcycle home and went to the ER later that night, complaining of shoulder pain.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That defendant's employee was leaving a parking lot and drove into oncoming traffic, crashing into the plaintiff's motorcycle; further, that defendant's employee was driving in the scope of employment with defendant Otsuka Pharmaceutical at the time of the crash.  

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant argued that they were not at fault because the driver acted reasonably. Defendant driver argued she proceeded slowly out of the driveway and just barely stepped off her brakes before getting hit. She testified that she looked to the right and didn’t see the motorcyclist because there was a line of cars parked on the side of the street. Defendant argued she reasonably crept out of the driveway and the motorcyclist ran into her.

    Defendant also argued the impact was low speed at 1-3 mph and the motorcycle had minimal to no damage.

    Defendant also argued that they were responsible for the first shoulder surgery, but not the second shoulder surgery because plaintiff did not follow post-operative protocol. Medical records showed multiple notations where the treating doctor stated plaintiff was overly exerting himself and overly aggressive after his surgery. Notations included reports of plaintiff riding his motorcycle after his first shoulder surgery, lifting weights and engaging in aggressive therapy. 

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Torn labrum, for which plaintiff received  shoulder surgery about six months post-injury. Seven months after the crash, plaintiff also complained of double knee pain for the first time. MRI imaging revealed meniscus tears to both knees. Plaintiff ended up having double knee surgery for a torn meniscus and then also received another revision shoulder surgery because he was still having shoulder pain after his first surgery.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $1,000,000
  • Defendant Final Offer before Trial: Day of trial: $250,000