Defendant disputes extent of injuries after U-turn collision. $292K. San Diego County.


Defendant admitted liability but disputed the claims of neck injury.  Refused $100K policy limits demand.

The Case

  • Case Name: Mejia v. Vu
  • Court and Case Number: San Diego Superior Court / 2018-2443
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, April 05, 2019
  • Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, January 17, 2018
  • Type of Case: MIST (Minor impact, soft tissue), Vehicles - Auto vs. Auto, Vehicles - U Turn
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Kevin A. Enright
  • Plaintiffs:
    Marcela Mejia, 30, behavioral interventionist.
  • Defendants:
    Anna Vu
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $292,244
  • Net Verdict or Award: $292,244
  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: None.
  • Economic Damages:

    Past medical expenses: $17,244

    Future medical expenses: $125,000

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past: $125,000

    Future: $25,000

  • Jury Deliberation Time: 6 hours.
  • Jury Polls: Substantial factor: 12-0; all others 9-3.
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Plaintiff will be filing motions for costs and interest pursuant to 998.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Rejali Law Firm, APC by Omid Rejali, San Diego.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Law offices of Scott D. Schabacker by Scott D. Schabacker, San Diego.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

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

    Stephen Heilman, D.C., chiropractic, Escondido. (Treating chiropractor.)

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Kenneth Ott, M.D., orthopedic surgery, San Diego.

    Stephen Rothman, M.D., radiology.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On October 12, 2016 plaintiff was driving to her mother’s house to pick up her 5-month-old baby when defendant made an illegal U-turn directly in her right of way.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    As a result of the crash, plaintiff sustained injuries to her cervical spine, specifically that she lost the lordosis of her neck. Plaintiff also contended that she suffered from a facet injury in the C5/C6 region, which became chronic.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That the crash was minor and at best plaintiff suffered a strain/sprain of her neck that should have been healed in 6 to 8 weeks.

    That all of plaintiff’s treatments were on liens and attorney-manufactured. That plaintiff over-treated.

    Defendant’s called Dr. Rothman who contended that plaintiff could have manipulated the X-rays to show that her neck had lost its curvature. Defendant’s also called a physical therapist who previously had treated plaintiff for a prior back injury. She testified that plaintiff had prior back problems and suffered 1-rated pain in her back.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Loss of cervical lordosis; chronic neck pain; facet injury.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $38,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $140,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: None.
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: None.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: Policy limits of $100,000 on February of 2018.
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $25,500. 

Additional Notes

Insurer: Wawanesa

Update as of November 2020:

The trial court granted the defendant’s JNOV and reduced future damages by $125,000 in September 2019.

Plaintiff appealed and the Court of Appeal reversed the decision and reinstated the jury’s verdict in October 2020.

Wawanesa ended up paying $374,993.18 inclusive of pre and post-judgment interest.

Appellate counsel: Tharpe & Howell by Eric B. Kunkel.

Trial Counsel: Scott D. Schabacker.