Medical Malpractice – Baby Rendered Quadriplegic With Cerebral Palsy-
Andrew Leyvas v. Norma Paragas, M.D.
Andrew Leyvas was born with jaundice. The hospital released him without
adequate testing or treatment. His parents sought medical help four days
later. His father telephoned Dr. Norma Paragas, a pediatrician who was
on call for the child's regular doctor. Andrew's mother called
a second time several hours later. Both parents reported that the baby's
skin was yellow and he was experiencing difficulty feeding.
Dr. Paragas did not request to see the baby and failed to recognize that
both calls dealt with the same baby. The parents, concerned about the
apathy displayed by Paragas, called the emergency room. Twelve hours after
initially speaking with Paragas, Andrew was finally admitted to the hospital.
Medical tests found Andrew to be suffering from hyperbilirubinemia and
kernicterus, conditions found in newborn babies when their livers cannot
break down a blood waste called bilirubin. Bilirubin becomes a potent
neurotoxin if allowed to accumulate in the body.
LEGAL THEORIES AND STRATEGIES
The firm contended that proper diagnosis and treatment did not begin until
the doctor turned the case over to a neonatal specialist on June 8. The
poisoning of Andrew's brain, due to a delay in treatment caused him
to become a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. Andrew’s parents maintained
that the doctor was dismissive of the parents' initial concerns regarding
their baby, inattentive to the infant's symptoms and failed to competently
deal with the baby's problems.
$84.3 million jury verdict
Man suffers burns, amputations and paraplegia after contacting power line-
Tuiaki v. Adelphia
A 36-year-old lineman, Sifa Tuiaki, suffered catastrophic injuries when
he came into contact with a 7,200-volt power line. Tuiaki was working
from an elevated workbasket installing a fiber-optic cable system. His
co-worker was slowly driving the bucket truck around a turn in the highway,
while Tuiaki elevated Tuiaki’s workbasket and the fiber-optic support
cable to avoid some redwood trees. In doing so, Tuiaki backed into a power
line that contacted the back of his neck and hardhat. Tuiaki suffered
bilateral amputation of both arms, burns over 45% of his body and paraplegia.
Suit was brought under the following theories: (1) negligent construction
management against defendants Adelphia, Pauley Construction and FJS; (2)
negligent premises maintenance against defendants Pacific Gas and Electric
Company, Pacific Bell, Western Environmental Consultations (WECI) and
Davey Tree Surgery; and (3) products liability against the manufacturer/successors
in interest of the uninsulated bucket tree, i.e. Mobile Tool International
(MTI), American Premier Underwriters (APU) and General Cable Corporation.
Tuiaki was hospitalized for over seven months and underwent 14 surgeries.
His wife, Lupe, age 37, was five months pregnant at the time of the accident
with their second child. Their oldest child was four years old at the
time. Lupe Tuiaki claimed loss of consortium due to her husband's
severe injuries. Tuiaki claimed past and future medical expenses and wage
loss over $13,000,000, which was disputed by the defendants.
Since the accident, Tuiaki obtained a general contractor's license
and used funds from his settlement to start his own business. He actively
oversees construction from his wheelchair with the assistance of his wife.
$29 million settlement.
RFTM Secures $24 Million Settlement For Bay Area Woman Paralyzed In Automobile Crash-
RFTM secures $20 Million for the wrongful death of a hotel guest exposed to a dangerous condition within his hotel room.-
The hotel owner/operator created a public safety risk by designing and
constructing unsafe accommodations that exposed the guest to a deadly
virus. The accommodations were negligently maintained further exposing
guests to this risk of serious harm and wrongful death. The hotel owner/operator
in this case continued to rent accommodations to guests despite knowledge
that the accommodations remained infested with vermin. Notably, the hotel
owner had notice of an infestation on the premises, but continued to rent
accommodations to the public.
Electrocution Accident – Reporter Electrocuted While Covering Story-
Adrienne Doe v. Parent Corp.
Adrienne Doe, a well-known television reporter in Southern California,
was in a news van being driven by her photographer. The van had a telescoping
mast with microwave antennae that allowed the reporter to make live video
transmissions. The driver parked the van on the driveway of an automotive
shop. As a result, the antennae angled toward the power lines as the mast
extended up into the sky.
Doe was unaware of this dangerous condition and was in the process of preparing
to cover the story when she suddenly heard her driver and others start
screaming for her to get out of the van. She rushed out of the van. As
soon as her right foot touched the electrified ground, the electric current
flowed through her body, causing devastating injuries.
The broadcasting company for which Doe worked had never given its employees
training on the dangers posed by the telescoping masts in light of their
being used near power lines. Nor did the company make its employees aware
of any emergency procedures to follow in the event a news van mast inadvertently
contacted an overhead power line, which would electrify the van.
$17.8 million settlement
Pedestrian struck in defectively-designed crosswalk-
Mowatt v. City of Los Angeles
Mowatt, a 19-year-year old student who was visiting Los Angeles, was crossing
an intersection near the Hollywood Bowl. As she neared the crosswalk’s
end, she was struck by an SUV. Mowatt sustained severe brain damage, a
fractured lower jawbone, broken teeth and facial lacerations. Her brain
injuries caused attention and concentration deficits, memory loss, as
well as the loss of her senses of taste and smell.
LEGAL THEORIES AND STRATEGIES
Mowatt sued the driver for negligence, and the City of Los Angeles and
the State of California for failing to correct a dangerous condition.
The driver didn't dispute liability and settled for $175,000. Meanwhile,
the state denied liability but settled before trial for $1.5 million.
As to the City of Los Angeles, Mowatt contended that the city had actual
notice of a dangerous condition, including the 55 mph speed limit on the
street, with no stop sign or traffic light at the crosswalk. Additionally,
an off-ramp from the freeway flowed directly into the intersection. The
city had received letters and phone calls from citizens who thought the
intersection was a danger to pedestrians and requesting an evaluation
of its safety, but the city failed to act on these requests or bring them
to the attention of the state.
The jury found the city 20 percent at fault, the state 48 percent at fault,
the driver 30 percent at fault and Mowatt 2 percent at fault.
$16 million, consisting of an $18 million jury verdict against the City
of Los Angeles, reduced to $12.25 million for the City’s comparative
fault and a prior $1.625 million settlement, plus over $2 million in costs
and interest following defendant’s unsuccessful appeal.
Men crushed by car against building suffer traumatic leg injuries-
Juan Diaz and John Doe v. Errant Delivery Co.
Two men, Juan Diaz and John Doe, were waiting at a walk-up window in San
Francisco, when an Errant Delivery Co. delivery car veered off the road
and crashed into the men at an impact speed of approximately 25 miles
per hour. Both men were crushed between the vehicle and the building.
Due to the accident, Doe had to undergo amputation of both legs above
the knee, and Diaz suffered major crush injuries to his left leg.
The driver of the car claimed that his brakes had failed that that he had
no other option but to crash into the building. Witnesses, including a
passenger in the car, challenged his testimony and stated that the driver
appeared to have lost consciousness which, in turn, caused him to swerve
into the building. An inspection of the car following the incident, found
no vehicle malfunctions.
From the beginning, the legal counsel for Errant Delivery Co. acknowledged
their client was responsible for the accident, but they also believed
it was too early to properly value the case. As a result, Errant Delivery
Co. made pre-resolution, partial settlement payments that amounted to
over $1 million to the plaintiffs. This early sign of good faith allowed
all parties to come to an agreeable resolution. In the end, Diaz and Doe
where justly compensated and Errant Delivery Co. did not declare bankruptcy.
$14.5 million settlement. Diaz's settlement was $5.5 million. Doe,
who had both legs traumatically amputated at the scene, was represented
by separate counsel.
Auto Accident – Woman Injured After Father Falls Asleep at the Wheel-
Cole v. Henry
Jury awards $13.4 million to woman injured when her father fell asleep
at the wheel and crashed truck during cross-country trip. The jury award
was the largest personal injury verdict in Sonoma County history.
On June 1, 2011, Angie Cole, age 28, and her father, Henry, a State Farm
insured, were driving across country from North Carolina to California
in a rental truck, hauling a trailer with a car on it. Henry was transporting
furniture and personal goods to his home in California. He had invited
his daughter to come along with him to share his company and driving responsibilities.
In the early morning hours of June 3, near Flagstaff, Arizona, as Angie
was sleeping in the front passenger seat, Henry fell asleep at the wheel.
The truck veered left at 70 mph, crossed two oncoming traffic lanes, and
plowed into the Mojave Desert. Lead counsel Cynthia McGuinn says, “This
case highlights the dangers associated with fatigued driving and the responsibilities
all drivers have to ensure they are fit to drive.”
Henry was able to extricate himself and stumble from the wreckage. Angie,
who knew she had suffered a severe back injury, remained belted in the
cab until an ambulance arrived some forty minutes later. Angie was taken
by ambulance to a local hospital which was ill-equipped to handle an injury
of this magnitude, so Angie was transported by helicopter to Sunrise Medical
Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Angie sustained a comminuted vertebral burst fracture of her spine requiring
surgical repair and fusion. She subsequently developed severe infections,
requiring an additional surgery. Ultimately a third surgery was performed
to remove the plates and screws in her spine as it was believed that might
be the source of the ongoing infection.
The trauma to Angie’s spine, caused by the fractures, the infections,
and repeated surgical procedures at the site, resulted in the development
of a mixed pain syndrome requiring a fourth surgery: the surgical implantation
a spinal cord stimulator, a device which helps to diminish, but not fully
control, ongoing pain. When it was discovered that Angie’s initial
spinal fusion had never been achieved and her spine was collapsing, a
fifth, complex spinal fusion operation was performed at UCSF.
Today, Angie is improved, but remains presently disabled from work. She
hopes to return to part time employment soon, but will require lifetime
After a trial spanning two months, the hardworking Sonoma County jury disagreed,
and awarded Angie $6.4 million in economic damages and $7 million for
her noneconomic damages – a $13.4 million verdict.
Husband and wife left quadriplegics after vehicle went over drop-off, plunging 160 feet down embankment-
The Becks v. City of San Jose and County of Santa Clara
The Becks, a married couple in their late thirties, drove their new Mazda
Miata convertible up a steep, narrow, rural mountain road in Santa Clara
County. A steep canyon bordered the south side of the road.
When they reached the top, the couple switched places so the wife could
experience driving down the mountain's curvy roads. After maneuvering
several curves, she approached a curve where she lost control of the vehicle.
The car spun out of control and left the roadway, plunging 160 feet down
a steep embankment, coming to rest upside down at the bottom of the canyon.
Both of the Becks were rendered quadriplegic.
LEGAL THEORIES AND STRATEGIES
The Becks contended that for a modest investment, a guardrail would have
prevented their vehicle from going over the steep drop-off. Additionally,
they argued that had there been proper warning signs, raised reflective
pavement markers, and supplemental delineation outlining the curve, the
curve would have been clear, and the danger of going over the steep drop-off avoided.
After the negotiations were over, the attorneys for the defendants told
the Becks that this settlement was the largest dangerous roadway settlement
they knew of.
$12.5 million settlement.
Martinez v. State of California, et al-
On October 12, 2007 a catastrophic chain reaction vehicle collision and
fire occurred in the 544 foot long Newhall Tunnel in Southern California.
In total, 33 commercial trucks and one auto were involved in a series
of collisions. This incident was triggered by a speeding truck that exited
the tunnel and lost control crashing into the center divider and coming
to rest 1,700 feet south of the tunnel exit. Thereafter, as vehicles exiting
the tunnel were slowing down a series of chain reaction collisions occurred.
A fire began from a collision about 130 feet outside the tunnel and quickly
spread through the entire tunnel creating an inferno. 39 year old Ricardo
Cibrian was trapped in his truck inside the tunnel after being struck
by several vehicles when the fire broke out. He was burned alive as the
fire spread through the tunnel.
The decedent was survived by his 44 year old wife and two children ages
5 and 12. Plaintiffs claimed an economic loss of $1.2 million dollars.
The case was extremely complicated as the CHP concluded that 14 of the
34 drivers were traveling at an unsafe speed at the time of this accident.
In addition, it was claimed that the design of the tunnel presented a
dangerous condition of property as the sight distance was inadequate for
the posted speed limit and this contributed to this disaster.
When initially designed and built in 1959, the Newhall tunnel had a posted
speed limit of 45 mph. In 2002, the State changed the speed limit to 55
mph. After this catastrophic accident, the state changed the posted speed
limit back to 45 mph.
Over 50 claims were consolidated into this action including 3 deaths, 5
personal injury actions, and dozens of property damage claims.
Tim Tietjen took the role as lead counsel for all the plaintiffs. Mr. Tietjen first
reached a settlement with the State of California for $2.75 million dollars
on behalf of his clients. Thereafter, he settled the plaintiffs claim
with the truck company that triggered this collision for $3.75 million dollars.
Almost all the remaining defendants had 1 million dollar combined single
limit insurance policies covering all property and injury claims for this
incident. Mr. Tietjen, with the consent of all other plaintiffs counsel,
bundled all the plaintiffs’ claims together and made 1 million dollar
policy limit demands to 11 different defendants. Over several years and
after multiple mediations, Mr. Tietjen was able to secure $8,875,000 in
settlement funds to be allocated among the various plaintiffs. Combining
his prior settlements with the group settlements, Mr. Tietjen was able
to recover a total of $11.4 million dollars for his clients. This represents
one of the highest settlements for a wrongful death case of this nature