$14 Million Verdict Against County of Los Angeles For Pedestrian Struck By Vehicle On Sidewalk

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On Wednesday, May 25, 2016, a Los Angeles County Superior Court jury awarded $13,935,550 to a man who was seriously injured when he was struck by a car while walking on a sidewalk in Norwalk, California. The plaintiff was represented at trial by Rahul Ravipudi, Thomas Schultz and Erika Contreras of Panish Shea & Boyle LLP.

Plaintiff Jake Newland was traveling by foot on a Norwalk Boulevard sidewalk on February 28, 2013 when a Los Angeles County Public Defender failed to yield to oncoming traffic while attempting to make a left turn into a shopping center. As a result, the Public Defender’s car collided with a Honda Civic driven by a second driver who, in turn, struck 19-year-old Mr. Newland from behind at approximately 40 miles per hour, forcing him into a brick wall.

As a result of the collision, Mr. Newland sustained extensive injuries including head trauma and multiple fractures of his ribs and spine. He was hospitalized for 17 days, including nine days in the Intensive Care Unit.

Despite the Public Defender admitting both that he was entirely at fault for the accident and that he was driving his vehicle in the course and scope of his employment for the County, the County disputed both points and the trial was bifurcated into two parts. In the first phase, which resolved in March of this year, a jury found that the County was vicariously liable for the Public Defender’s negligence under the required vehicle use exception. In the second phase of the trial, the County attempted to shift blame for the crash onto the driver of the Civic despite its own employee’s admission that he was responsible for the crash. The County also argued that Mr. Newland’s injuries were not significant and that he had made a complete recovery. The jury disagreed and found that the Public Defender (and thus the County) was 100 percent responsible for the collision and that Mr. Newland was entitled to a total of $13,935,550 in damages, including $122,356.00  in past medical expenses, $770,056 in future medical expenses, $545,222 in future lost earnings, $3,239,583 in past pain and suffering and $9,258,333 in future pain and suffering. The County’s pre-trial settlement offer was $110,000.

“The County of Los Angeles, to the detriment of itself and its constituents – including Mr. Newland – delayed and obstructed for years, forcing a trial that became a six month odyssey,” said attorney Rahul Ravipudi. “While justice was delayed, a jury of his peers awarded fair compensation to Mr. Newland based upon the overwhelming evidence.”

Defendant County of Los Angeles was represented at trial by Joshua Cohen and Nicole A. Davis Tinkham of Collins, Collins, Muir & Stewart.

Panish Shea & Boyle LLP has obtained numerous multimillion-dollar jury verdicts in pedestrian versus vehicle cases in the last several years, including a $20,500,000 verdict in July 2015 for the mother of a 15-year old boy who was tragically killed after being hit by a car while crossing a highway to reach a school bus stop and a $34,555,220 verdict in January 2015 for a man who suffered a below-the-knee amputation after he was hit by the trailer of a semi-truck while he was standing on a sidewalk. Additional recent verdicts include a $17,393,479.87 verdict against NuCO2 in June 2015 for a chain collision caused by a NuCO2 truck that left a young man with facial and brain injuries and $36,482,302.56 verdict against Schneider National in a big-rig truck accident that left a woman catastrophically injured.