$3M verdict for man struck by car. $100K defense offer 3 mo. before trial. Los Angeles County.
Plaintiff suffers TBI when hit by a car while he was in the street after dark, helping a dog owner and his injured dog. Medical and loss of earnings damages waived. Defense offered policy limit of $100,000 only three months before trial.
- Case Name: Joesph Butenhoff v. Rae Anne Bautista
- Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC521696
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, August 12, 2015
- Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, September 18, 2013
- Type of Action: Vehicles - vs. Pedestrian
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Burt Pines
Plaintiffs: Joseph Butenhoff, 33, cell-phone tower builder
Defendants: Rae Anne Bautista
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $3,000,000
- Net Verdict or Award: $1,950,000 net after comparative negligence by plaintiff.
- Contributory/Comparative Negligence: Defendant: 65%, Plaintiff: 35%
Plaintiff waived all claims for past and future medical specials; Plaintiff waived loss of earnings.
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 7 days
- Jury Deliberation Time: 4 hours
- Jury Polls: 9-3: Liability; 10-2: Damages
- Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Plaintiff will be filing a motion for costs.
Attorney for the Plaintiff:
Bisnar | Chase, LLP by H. Gavin Long, Newport Beach.
Attorney for the Defendant:
Kinkle Rodiger & Spriggs by Michael Moon, Riverside.
Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
Ken Nudleman, M.D., neurology, Santa Ana.
Jon Wen, Ph.D., neuropsychology, Torrance. (Treating physician.)
Kendall Wagner, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Fullerton.
Robert Baird, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Irvine.
Thomas DiJulio, M.D., neurology,, Long Beach.
Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):
Defendant's Technical Expert(s):
Peter Burkhard, accident reconstruction.
Facts and Background
Facts and Background:
On December 3, 2012, at 7:30pm, plaintiff was standing in the #1 lane of northbound Palo Verde in the city of Long Beach, helping a dog owner whose dog was previously hit by a car. The dog was lying in the northbound #1 lane. Defendant was driving northbound in the #1 lane when she swerved left to avoid hitting the dog and instead hit plaintiff. The incident happened at night in a dark area of a residential neighborhood.
The traffic collision report noted that plaintiff was 100% at fault.
That defendant failed to watch the road ahead; that plaintiff had been present in the #1 lane with the injured dog and it's owner while other vehicles were slowly passing in the #2 northbound lane; that while driving in the #1 lane, defendant passed the vehicles in the #2 lane which had slowed, and then struck plaintiff.
That the investigating officer found plaintiff 100% at fault. That plaintiff violated CVC 21954 - pedestrian in the roadway. That defendant did her best to avoid the incident by swerving when she saw plaintiff.
That plaintiff recovered from his injuries after 7 months. That plaintiff went back to work after a year, earning the same pay and doing the same type of work. That since plaintiff has a physically demanding job where he builds and maintains cell site towers, climbs up to 60 feet, and drives a company vehicle, he cannot be hurt as badly as claimed; that he is functioning well in his daily life.
Injuries and Other Damages
Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:
Traumatic Brain Injury, fractured hip, torn meniscus, other cuts and lacerations.
Depression and anxiety.
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: None
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: None
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: None
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: None
Demands and Offers
- Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: $875,000
- Defendant Final Offer before Trial: $100,000 (policy limit) two months before trial.
Allstate was the defendant's insurance carrier. Allstate denied the claim until April of 2015 when they finally took the deposition of the independent witness listed in the police report. Shortly thereafter, Allstate offered the policy limits.