Following a five-week trial in Monterey County on an admitted liability case, partners Jorge Martinez, John Osgood and Zachary Rutman obtained a jury verdict of less than 2 percent of Plaintiffs’ demand at trial. The case involved a roll-over accident in which one plaintiff alleged she was ejected.

Plaintiffs, two sisters ages 14 and 17, claimed serious and debilitating traumatic brain injuries and other orthopedic complaints. Plaintiffs claimed that their IQs and academic functioning deteriorated due to the accident. The younger Plaintiff claimed the impact upon her cognitive functioning and overall disability was so profound that she requires 24-hour care for the rest of her life starting at age 22. At trial, Plaintiffs first pursued the argument that the younger Plaintiff was ejected during the rollover accident, thereby supporting their position that she sustained a very significant traumatic brain injury despite minimal treatment between emergent treatment on the day of the accident and the timeframe within which Plaintiffs retained counsel to pursue their personal injury claims.  

Doubling down upon their manufactured traumatic brain injury claims, Plaintiffs called six expert witnesses to validate their injuries, including a neurologist, two neuro-psychologists, a neuro-optometrist, physical pain and rehabilitation doctor and life care planner. 

Defendants maintained that Plaintiffs’ injuries were pre-existing, overstated and expert-driven. To counter Plaintiffs’ ejection theory, which was corroborated by an “eyewitness’ who testified she personally observed the ejection, Defendants called the responding California Highway Patrol officer, who had obtained statements at the scene from both girls stating that the older sister pulled her younger sister from the vehicle after the accident.  Defendants also called an accident reconstructionist and a biomechanical expert to fully explain how the physical evidence directly contradicted the theory of ejection. Furthermore, Defendants questioned the credibility of the “eyewitness” by obtaining admissions concerning her ability to perceive the ejection, that she left the scene without providing any assistance, never provided a statement to law enforcement, and was acquainted with the older Plaintiff.

To rebut Plaintiffs’ claims of injuries and damages, Defendants called Plaintiffs’ teachers to establish that Plaintiffs – and in particular the younger Plaintiff that claimed ejection –struggled with learning disabilities before the accident. Defendants then called Plaintiffs’ primary care providers and optometrist to establish that the brain injury complaints were not made to independent witnesses and only started after their mother retained an attorney to pursue monetary damages. Defendants buttressed this evidence with testimony from experts in the fields of neuropsychology and education to establish that the vast majority of Plaintiffs’ cognitive and emotional issues, including the younger Plaintiff’s learning disabilities, pre-dated the accident. The Defendants also presented testimony from several leading physicians in the field of pediatric brain injuries to bolster their theory that severe cognitive impairment cannot result from the types of injuries Plaintiffs’ sustained. 

During closing argument, Plaintiffs’ counsel asked the jury for $36 million; Defense counsel suggested approximately $300,000. After deliberating for two days, the jury returned a total verdict of $596,000 for both plaintiffs, which amount is subject to further offset due to a pre-trial settlement between Plaintiffs and the driver of Plaintiffs' vehicle.