Civil Jury Verdicts – October Issue of Contra Costa Lawyer

Civil Jury Verdicts

gavelIndeed it has been some time since I penned the popular Civil Jury Verdicts column. Same old story: Very few attorneys are reporting their jury verdicts to me. I will say, trials are getting out in our Contra Costa Superior Courts, so I know there are cases to report. I also know local lawyers who are going to trial in other venues, including Federal Court. And, I am aware of significant settlements here in Contra Costa Superior Courts, as well as in other venues. I will mention all of those cases in our Civil Jury Verdicts column. You just have to report those cases to me. Sounds like a broken record doesn’t it?

Now let’s get down to some case reporting.

Moore vs. Wiebe, Case No. S-1500-CV-282514 LHB was tried in Kern County Superior Court, before the Honorable Lorna Brumfield. Plaintiff was represented by Solomon Green of RG Lawyers, LLP of Encino, California. Our own Bob Slattery along with Denise Billups-Stone of the McNamara firm represented the Defendant.

The Plaintiff, a 49-year-old medically-disabled welder, sued the Defendant, a neurosurgeon M.D., for complications he developed after a laminectomy, facetectomy and a tethered cord release. The surgery took place at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital.

Prior to the trial, the Plaintiff offered to settle for $250,000. Defendant offered to resolve the case by a CCP 998 offer of a dismissal in exchange for a waiver of costs. Doesn’t exactly sound like a meeting of the minds.

After a two week trial, the jury found for the Defendant doctor, in a unanimous verdict. The ouch part for Plaintiff in such med mal cases is there are generally significant expert costs and Plaintiff may very well be on the hook for those.

Thanks to Bob Slattery for reporting the case. He regularly reports cases to me, but looks like he has now transitioned into a mediator (See my next edition of Bar Soap), so I may not see any more Bob Slattery cases. Remember that “Mediation privilege? ” It means he cannot report the mediation cases to me.

An interesting note on medical malpractice cases: My research has reflected over the years medical malpractice cases have the lowest percentage of an outcome in favor of Plaintiffs of any type of personal injury matter.

In June of 2014 I wrote about Arnold vs. Padrah. Contra Costa Superior Court Case No. MSC12-02895.  The Honorable Steve Austin presided. Clyde Long just reported an appellate decision in that same matter.

Recall at the time of my report there was a verdict, but the bifurcated trial on the issue of punitive damages had not yet taken place, and Judge Austin had not yet ruled on the Plaintiff’s quiet title claim of prescriptive easement. Clyde promised to let me know the final result. It took 29 months from start of the trial to the appellate decision.

The jury subsequently awarded $20,000 of punitive damages on top of the $68,000 damages award. Judge Austin granted a prescriptive easement in favor of Plaintiff, and awarded costs of $112,000. The total judgment was $200,000. The judgment was appealed by Defendant. The Court of Appeal recently affirmed the judgment in its entirety.

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