Property damage claim litigated after minor sideswipe. Defense. Los Angeles County.


Plaintiffs seek diminished value claim on leased vehicle after sideswipe damage to Audi.

The Case

  • Case Name: Sheinbein v. Bell
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / 16K05852
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, January 11, 2019
  • Date Action was Filed: Monday, May 16, 2016
  • Type of Case: Negligence, Vehicles - Auto vs. Auto, Vehicles - Parked Vehicle
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Mary Ann Murphy
  • Plaintiffs:
    Robert Sheinbein
    Martin Sheinbein
  • Defendants:
    Maren Bell
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Award as to each Defendant:

    Defense verdict; Defendant awarded litigation costs of $6,734.

  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Motion for new trial; motion to tax costs.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Robert Sheinbein, Los Angeles.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Raffalow, Bretoi, Lutz & Stele by Antoinette D. Morris, Los Angeles.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Harrison Gray.

    Robert Petricca.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Robert Barney, appraisals.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Property damage claim arising from a minor sideswipe auto accident on February 26, 2015.

    Plaintiffs’ vehicle, a leased 2015 Audi RS5 Quattro, sustained damage to the driver’s side mirror and the paint on the fender was chipped when the mirror shattered and scratched the fender. There was no other damage to the car. Plaintiffs’ vehicle was repaired by Premier Motorsports. The repair took 28 days. Mercury paid the repair costs of $3,133.60. The necessary repairs included repairing paint chips on the left fender and left door, replacing the mirror, refinishing/blending the paint, and sanding/ polishing the paint. Mercury compensated Plaintiffs $2,916 for the 28 days the vehicle was in the repair shop at the rate of $104.25 per day as rental/loss of use. Plaintiffs did not rent a vehicle during the 28 days.

    Plaintiffs claimed diminution of value due to the repairs although (1) they did not return the vehicle to the repair shop to express dissatisfaction and (2) they were not the legal owners of the car – it was a lease; they did not exercise the right to purchase at the end of the lease. Plaintiffs also alleged they were charged $7,500 when the vehicle was returned to the dealer; no written documents were produced. Plaintiffs also requested $195 for towing charges. The car was towed to plaintiffs after it was repaired. Plaintiffs requested $28,000-34,000 for the loss of use/rental, stating they were entitled to rent an Audi Rs5 at the rate of $900-$1400 per day for 27 days while the car was being repaired.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That plaintiffs were entitled to compensation for rental of an Audi RS5 as well as reimbursement for tow truck (it was a necessary expense to avoid putting miles on the car), and $7,500 as diminished value/costs when vehicle was returned to the dealer.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That plaintiffs were already compensated for the loss and had no ownership interest in the car, so diminished value claim is not applicable. That plaintiffs were compensated for rental, although no rental vehicle was obtained and there was no obligation to rent the same car (law indicates a similar car is sufficient). Also that the tow truck charge was unnecessary and there was no proof for the alleged $7,500 charge.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $15,000
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $1,500

Additional Notes

Per plaintiff's counsel:

This was the second trial on this matter. The first resulted in a judgment in favor of Sheinbein in the sum of $25,000 plus costs. Judgment was entered on May 1, 2018. Defense counsel brought motion to set aside judgment, which was granted, requiring defense counsel to pay to Sheinbein the sum of $4,275.  Second trial was completed as above, however the matter was settled in lieu of appeal due to defense impropriety at trial, and case settled for payment of $3,367.14  Net recovery to Sheinbein of $907.86.