Clients’ Stories

The following are examples of the cases our lawyers have handled and the results we achieved, organized by type of accident or injury:

If you or a loved one has been injured, please contact our attorneys or call 818-591-6388.

Premises Liability

ACTUAL PREMISES LIABILITY CASE AT A GROCERY STORE IN LOS ANGELES: A spry 80-year-old retiree parks her car in a handicapped space. She gets out of her car and is walking in the blue-striped diagonal walkway area (“the safety zone”) when she suddenly trips on a blue cement wheel/tire stop. She fractures her left arm just below the elbow and her skin has a minor laceration. She is taken to a local hospital where the wound is cleaned and the arm is set. She develops an infection (osteomyelitis) in the elbow area and requires multiple surgeries where the infected bone is removed. Due to the severe fracture and bone loss, she loses the use of her left arm below the elbow. The woman now requires an attendant to assist her with the activities of daily living, but does not have the funds to hire this assistance.

Why The Store Was Liable And What Happened: After denying responsibility, we sued the store and, during the course of discovery, found out the store relocated some of the handicap parking spaces. Instead of calling in a qualified contractor to do the job, the manager decided to save some money and had one of the store’s custodians restripe the spaces. The custodian knew nothing about the Americans with Disabilities Act’s requirements that the “safety zone” — where people walk — be kept clear of any obstructions. Instead of moving the heavy cement wheel/tire stop to the actual parking space, he left it in the “safety zone” where handicapped people walk. This was a clear violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In addition, a customer is a “business invitee” and a business owner owes one of the highest duties of care recognized in the law: the duties to inspect, warn and make the premises safe. If a business fails to do so and a customer gets hurt as a result, the customer can sue for his or her injuries and damages. Result: The store’s insurance company paid its full policy limits of $1 million to settle this case.

ACTUAL CASE AT A COUNTY FAIR IN VENTURA COUNTY: A County Fair organizer has “indoor/outdoor” carpeting installed over an area with heavy pedestrian traffic. The carpeting is secured with tape. An 82-year-old man trips on part of the rippled carpeting, falls to the ground and strikes his head. He suffers brain damage. His medical expenses are more than $400,000.

WHY THE FAIR ORGANIZER WAS LIABLE AND WHAT HAPPENED: The gentleman was a “business invitee” to whom a very high duty of care was owed. The fair organizer chose to save money by installing a cheaper brand of carpeting that had a tendency to wrinkle due to changes in temperature. Result: The insurance company paid $1.3 million to settle this case.

ACTUAL CASE AT A HOME IN SACRAMENTO COUNTY: There is an after-school swim party for approximately 20 children, ages 9 to 14. The adults in charge of the party are inside the house and leave the children unattended. One 10-year-old, “Jack” (not his real name), pushes “Michael” (not his real name), age 9, into the pool and jumps on him. “Michael” is stunned and sinks to the deep end. He is pulled out of the water several minutes later. He is unresponsive. Paramedics rush him to a local hospital. He is diagnosed with irreversible brain damage. His parents are told that Michael will be in coma and will require 24/7 care for the rest of his life.

WHO WAS LIABLE AND WHAT HAPPENED: The homeowner who threw the party and other adults stayed inside and failed to monitor the children. Our investigation revealed that “Jack” was a known bully in the neighborhood. He had major behavioral problems at school and picked fights often. “Michael”‘s parents were well-aware of his dangerous propensities and failed to either stay at the party and monitor him or warn the other parents about him. Result: The insurance companies for the homeowner and on behalf of Jack and his parents paid a multimillion-dollar settlement on this case.

ACTUAL CASE IN KERN COUNTY: “Rick” (not his real name) works for a company that services and repairs oil tanks. Rick is sent by his foreman to repair an oil tank’s access panel that allows workers to go inside the tank for cleaning purposes. The owner of the oil field had shut down the facility some months before and large “Not in Service” signs are posted on all oil tanks in this large facility. Unbeknownst to Rick and his co-worker, a well located about a quarter mile away has pumped crude into an oil tank adjacent to the one that needs repairs. Highly flammable fumes from the adjacent tank flow into the tank on which they were working. While grinding part of the access panel, a spark ignites the fumes and causes a massive explosion. The flash fire shoots flames through the access panel directly at Rick who is totally engulfed. The flames extend 30 feet from the oil tank and burn large portions of Rick’s work truck. Rick is airlifted from the scene but dies a few days later after incurring more than $100,000 in medical expenses. He leaves a wife and two children, ages 13 and 4. He was earning approximately $60,000/year at the time of his death.

WHO WAS LIABLE AND WHAT HAPPENED: Our team of forensic experts conducted an extensive investigation and determined that the oil field owner was clearly at fault. It failed to control waste gases from the adjacent tank; it failed to tell Rick and his co-worker that a well was in active operation and was pumping crude directly into the adjacent tank (a violation of California law); the “Not in Service” signs led Rick and his co-worker to believe that the facility had been shut down. Result: The oil field owner’s insurance paid a multimillion-dollar settlement.

ACTUAL CASE IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY: A 40-year-old man works at a demolition site in Long Beach. He is working on the roof, without a safety rope, pulling a cable that becomes entangled. As he pulls on it, he loses his balance and falls backward and crashes through an unguarded/unprotected skylight. He falls 15 feet onto a cement floor fracturing his face and wrist. He requires multiple surgeries and can no longer work in the demolition industry.

WHY THE BUILDING OWNER WAS LIABLE AND WHAT HAPPENED: The owner of the building failed to comply with Cal/OSHA requirements to prevent falls through skylights. The law required barricades around the skylights or a “cage” below it. Result: The owner’s insurance company paid six figures to cover the workman’s lost wages and pain and suffering.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

ACTUAL CAR ACCIDENT CASE IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY: “Mary” (not her real name), age 35 and mother of two young children, is driving a 2009 Chevy Silverado pickup on the freeway. Her husband, “Eric” (not his real name), is riding in the right front seat. Both are wearing seat belts. A dump truck drifts into their lane striking the pickup on the right rear. The pickup veers out of control, crashes into the median divider and spins around several times. The pickup, now totally out of control, crosses all lanes of traffic, slams into a barrier and goes airborne. It is then broadsided by the dump truck. The pickup rolls end-over-end down an embankment. The woman fractures bones in her neck and can’t move. She thinks she is dead. Paramedics call for an air ambulance, and she is taken to a local hospital. She requires multiple surgeries (including a fusion and hardware implantation). She has to wear a “halo” for more than four months to stabilize her neck. She can no longer work. Her husband suffers minor soft tissue injuries to his neck and back and is severely traumatized by what happens to his wife.

WHY THE TRUCKER WAS LIABLE AND WHAT HAPPENED: Our investigation revealed that the trucker, who was working the night shift at a construction site, more than likely fell asleep at the wheel. Result: The trucker’s insurance company paid $1 million to settle Mary’s claims and also compensated Eric for his injuries and emotional distress.

ACTUAL TRUCKING ACCIDENT CASE IN LASSEN COUNTY: “Molly” (not her real name), age 40, is behind the wheel of a 1996 Ford F-250 pickup driving on an icy stretch of a country road. Her husband, “Jake” (not his real name), is in the passenger seat with the family dog “Moe” sitting between them. Both Mary and Jake are wearing their seat belts. They had just dropped off their teenage daughter at school. Suddenly and without any warning, a tractor-trailer rig from a local logging company, traveling at excessive speed, crosses the center line on a straightaway. The trucker slams on the brakes and his rig jackknifes. The Ford slams into the truck’s passenger side fuel tank and stops. Moments later, Jake looks over to see Molly unconscious. He thinks Molly is dead. He has no feeling in his hands. He checks on Moe who is lying on the floor of the cab, dead. A passing motorist, an EMT, pulls to the side of the road behind the wreck. The EMT determines that Molly is still alive, and he helps Jake pull Molly from the wreckage as the truck’s diesel fuel leaks onto the roadway. They carry her a safe distance away and lay her down. The EMT covers Molly with a blanket, kneels in the snow holding her head for 15 minutes until paramedics finally arrive. Both Molly and Jake survive. Molly has facial fractures, a fractured right ankle, a fractured arm and a concussion. Jake has severe injuries to his neck (ruptured disks). Both require surgery and both have serious after-effects. Both of them are unable to work for many months.

WHY THE TRUCKER WAS LIABLE AND WHAT HAPPENED: The trucker ignored a Caltrans sign to reduce speed because the roadway was icy. He was driving his rig at an unsafe speed for conditions. Result: The trucker’s insurance company paid for all of Molly and Jake’s medical expenses and their lost earnings. It also paid for their pain and suffering. The total settlement was $1.25 million.

ACTUAL TRUCKING ACCIDENT CASE IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY: “Ralph” (not his real name), age 68, is an over-the-road trucker hauling a load of steel shelving units (used by big-box retailers like Costco and Wal-Mart). The shelving had been loaded onto his flatbed in Louisville, Kentucky, by the manufacturer’s yard workers. The trucker checks his load frequently during his trip to San Diego. When he arrives at the warehouse, he is directed to an indoor staging area. He gets out of his truck and is walking on the left side of the trailer as a forklift operator begins to offload the shelving from the passenger side of the trailer. Suddenly, part of the load falls off the flatbed and Ralph is crushed by 2,750 pounds of steel. He dies instantly. He is survived by two adult sons.

WHO IS LIABLE AND WHAT HAPPENED: Extensive investigation proved that the trucker would not have known that the Kentucky manufacturer’s employees failed to properly load and tie down the steel shelving onto the flatbed. It was also determined that the forklift operator was careless in not making sure the load was stable before the unloading process began. Another trucker was killed in a similar incident involving the same forklift company a few years before. Both defendants claimed that the trucker should have known that his load was unstable and should not have been in the area during the offloading process. Result: The insurance companies paid several hundred thousand dollars to the surviving sons. Neither was financially dependent on their dad, but both had a close relationship with him.

ACTUAL MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT CASE IN ORANGE COUNTY: “Darrin” (not his real name), age 19, is a student at a local community college. He loves to sing and play his guitar. He also works part time at Disneyland as one of the most well-liked characters on “Main Street.” On the day of the incident, he is riding his motorcycle northbound on Pacific Coast Highway in the slow lane at 40 mph. He is an experienced rider and is licensed by the DMV. He is wearing a helmet, gloves and motorcycle boots. The speed limit is 40 mph. As he approaches an exclusive guard-gated community of custom homes, a 72-year-old woman, driving her 1997 Range Rover, exits the property onto the Pacific Coast Highway. She never looks for oncoming traffic and turns left (southbound). She never sees Darrin. Darrin slams on his brakes but can’t avoid a broadside impact. He is thrown over her car and lands some distance away from the crash scene. He is pronounced dead at the scene. The woman is charged with vehicular manslaughter. Darrin leaves two grieving parents, an older sister and his 3-year-old niece. His parents were not financially dependent upon him. More than 500 people attend his funeral.

WHO WAS LIABLE AND WHAT HAPPENED: The crash was investigated by the CHP, which determined that Darrin was not speeding and that the woman was solely responsible for Darrin’s death. Result: The woman’s insurance company paid its policy limits of $1 million to settle the case. The woman herself paid another $200,000 out of her own pocket for a total settlement of $1.2 million.

ACTUAL ROLLOVER ACCIDENT CASE IN ORANGE COUNTY: “Donna” (not her real name), age 35, is a single mom driving her 1998 Volvo sedan at 65 mph when another motorist loses control and slams into her car. The Volvo rolls multiple times. Donna is wearing her seat belt, but her left arm extends through the open driver’s window. Her wrist is crushed by the roof when the car rolls. Her medical expenses are about $75,000. She is unable to work for almost nine months and has a rough time taking care of her kids.

WHO IS LIABLE AND WHAT HAPPENED: The driver of the other car was insured for only $15,000. Donna then filed for “underinsured motorist” benefits from her own insurance company. Result: Donna’s own insurance company paid for her medical expenses, lost earnings and the rest of its policy limits of $250,000 for her pain and suffering.

ACTUAL REAR-END COLLISION CASE IN VENTURA COUNTY: “Joe” (not his real name) is on the freeway driving to a community fair with his daughter, “Lisa” (not her real name), age 19, and his two sons, “Roger” (not his real name), age 16, and “Mike” (not his real name), age 15. Traffic is backed up near the exit, and John came to a complete stop. Seconds later, “Greg” (not his real name), driving at a high rate of speed never hits his brakes and slams into the back of Joe’s car. Joe’s car spins out of control and comes to rest on the side of the road. Joe is knocked unconscious. Lisa hurts her neck, back and head. Roger has a bad laceration to his forehead. Mike suffers severe blunt force trauma to his head. All are taken by ambulance on a “Code 3” (lights and siren) to a local hospital. Despite the doctors’ major efforts to save his life, Mike dies from his injuries. Mike’s medical bills alone are more than $125,000. The rest of the family’s bills are more than $35,000. The entire family, including Joe’s wife, require ongoing counseling for their terrible loss of a son and brother.

WHO WAS LIABLE AND WHAT HAPPENED: Greg was determined to be solely responsible for what happened to Joe and his kids. Result: Greg’s insurance carrier paid its policy limits to settle this tragic case. Unfortunately, there was limited coverage. We also assisted the family in applying for benefits under the California Victim Compensation Program, which helped to pay for their medical bills and funeral expenses.

ACTUAL PEDESTRIAN ACCIDENT CASE IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY: “Kathy” (not her real name), age 74, steps off the curb from the sidewalk and into a marked crosswalk to cross the street. “Frank” (not his real name), driving a truck for a local newspaper, is eastbound on the side street. Frank approaches the intersection and the crosswalk and, as he rolls to a stop, looks to his left for cross-traffic but fails to look to his right. He fails to see Kathy in the crosswalk directly in front of him and knocks her to the ground. Kathy sustains major brain damage and requires 24/7 care for the rest of her life.

WHO WAS LIABLE AND WHAT HAPPENED: After extensive investigation and an appeal ruling in Kathy’s favor, Frank’s insurance company paid its policy limits and the newspaper company also paid a substantial amount to settle this case just before trial.

ACTUAL BICYCLE ACCIDENT CASE IN VENTURA COUNTY: “Matt” (not his real name), age 16, is riding his bike on a city street without a designated bike lane. The street narrows and, as Matt approaches, a city school bus driver can’t avoid hitting Matt and runs over him. He dies instantly.

WHO WAS LIABLE AND WHAT HAPPENED: Our investigation revealed that the city and its bus driver were negligent, the city for not warning of the dangerous condition of the roadway and the driver for hitting Matt. Result: The city’s insurance company paid several hundred thousand dollars for Matt’s wrongful death.

ACTUAL HEAD-ON COLLISION CASE IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY: “Bill” (not his real name), age 60, is driving his work truck westbound on a major boulevard. He is going through an intersection on a green light and is wearing his seat belts. Suddenly, another car coming from the opposite direction turns left in front of him. He slams into the passenger side of the other car. His truck is totaled. He injures his neck so severely that he is unable to work for six months.

WHO IS LIABLE AND WHAT HAPPENED: An investigation by the LAPD revealed that the other driver violated Bill’s right of way. Result: The other driver’s insurance company paid several hundred thousand dollars to settle Bill’s case.

ACTUAL HEAD-ON COLLISION CASE IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY: “Mike” (not his real name), age 23, attends a local trade school and is a passenger in his friend’s car. They are driving eastbound on a major street in Van Nuys when suddenly and with no warning, another car driven by “Robert” (not his real name), traveling at a high rate of speed, crosses the double-line into their lane. Robert had been drag-racing with “Joe” (not his real name). Traffic was stopped ahead, and Robert couldn’t stop in time. He slams into Mike’s car head-on with tremendous force. Both cars are totaled. Mike is extracted from the car with the “Jaws of Life” and rushed to a local hospital. He undergoes surgery to fix multiple fractures to his pelvis. He can’t go to school and is unable to work at his part-time job for many months. The crash is witnessed by an off-duty police officer who races after Joe. Joe finally stops after the police officer pulls up alongside Joe’s car, flashes his badge and orders him to stop.

WHO IS LIABLE AND WHAT HAPPENED: The LAPD investigation revealed that, at the time of the crash, both Robert and Joe were engaged in a speed contest. An off-duty police officer pulled Joe over and saw a number of empty beer cans in Joe’s car. During the lawsuit, we learned that Joe had gone drinking with his employer and co-employees after a long day at work. We were able to prove that Robert and Joe were both liable for the crash. Result: Robert had only minimal insurance of $15,000, but Joe’s employer’s insurance company paid Mike several hundred thousand dollars to settle the case.

ACTUAL UNDERINSURED MOTORIST CASE IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY: “Jill” (not her real name), age 24, is in her last year of school to be a chiropractor. She is driving on a residential street near Santa Monica Airport when she is broadsided by “Justin” (not his real name) at the intersection. There is a stop sign at the intersection for Justin. She is pinned inside her car, and paramedics use the “Jaws of Life” to extract her from her car. She is rushed to UCLA Medical Center where X-rays reveal multiple fractures to her pelvis. One of the world’s most recognized experts on treating such fractures is on staff at UCLA. He performs multiple surgeries, using titanium screws and plates to stabilize her fractures. She is unable to walk for more than four months. She is finally able to complete school and begin working. She can only work part time because it is difficult for her to stand for prolonged periods while treating her patients.

WHO IS LIABLE AND WHAT HAPPENED: Justin had only $15,000 in insurance. We filed a claim for underinsured motorist benefits with Jill’s carrier. Her claim was denied by the adjuster who claimed that Justin had stopped before going into the intersection. The adjuster claimed that Jill was speeding. Result: An arbitrator saw it our way and awarded Jill the full benefit to which she was entitled under the policy, $300,000.

Medical Malpractice

ACTUAL FAILURE TO DIAGNOSE CASE IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY: “Becky” (not her real name), age 71, is recuperating from surgery at a convalescent hospital. Nurses notice a wound on her right heel and bring it to the outside doctor’s attention. The doctor thinks it’s a minor infection and treats it with antibiotics. Over the following two weeks, the nurses told the doctor that the wound is getting worse and worse, but the doctor never comes in to evaluate Becky. Instead, the doctor tells the nurses to continue applying the antibiotic cream to Becky’s heel. The nurses take photos from the time they first see Becky’s wound, and the photos are in the chart. Finally, the doctor calls a specialist who diagnoses a Stage IV bedsore and the heel has gangrene. Due to the delay in accurately diagnosing the problem, Becky must have her leg amputated below her knee. She dies six months later, leaving her husband (to whom she was married to for more than 45 years) and three adult daughters.

WHO IS LIABLE AND WHAT HAPPENED: Our expert reviewed all of Becky’s records at the convalescent hospital. He testified that weeks before the bedsore worsened to Stage IV and became gangrenous, Becky was a candidate for a limb-saving “bypass” procedure. He also testified that if the doctor had called in the specialist sooner, Becky would not have lost her leg and would not have died. Result: The family was ultimately awarded several hundred thousand dollars for their loss.

ACTUAL BIRTH INJURY CASE IN VENTURA COUNTY: “Maggie” (not her real name), age 19, is pregnant with her first baby and goes into labor close to full term. She has arranged for a licensed midwife, “Jane” (not her real name), to deliver her baby at a local hospital where Jane has privileges to do so. Hospital nurses are also there to assist Jane. Maggie labors for several hours. Jane has difficulty delivering the baby, but does not call Maggie’s doctor who was on-call for that very reason. The fetal monitor shows the baby was in distress and that its “reserves” were being depleted. Maggie’s doctor is not called in to perform an emergency C-section. After a long delay, “Joey” (not the baby’s real name) is finally delivered. He is not breathing. The nurses’ resuscitation efforts are less than optimal (Joey’s grandmother was present at all times during the delivery and videotaped it).

Jane testifies she relied on the nurses to watch the fetal heart monitor because she was busy trying to deliver the baby. The nurses testify they relied on Jane to watch the monitor because they were busy helping Maggie “push.” Because delivery was delayed, Joey was deprived of oxygen and suffers mild brain damage. Joey walks with a limp, does not have full use of his left arm and is speech-impaired. He is a “special needs” child who requires ongoing physical therapy as well as speech and occupational therapy.

WHO IS LIABLE AND WHAT HAPPENED: Our experts in midwifery, nursing and obstetrics all testified Jane and the nurses failed to comply with the standard of care and their failure caused the baby’s injuries. Result: The insurance companies paid a multimillion-dollar settlement on this case. After extensive meetings with Joey’s doctors and therapists, we arranged for some of the settlement proceeds to be paid “upfront” so that he could get the therapy he needed as soon as possible. His health care team believes that this carefully designed program will give Joey the maximum chance to lead a close-to-normal life.

ACTUAL INFANT BRAIN DAMAGE CASE IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY: “Jerry” and “Monica” (not their real names) want to have a baby. They didn’t know at the time, but Monica, who is fully functional and without any limitations (physical or mental), has a very rare chromosomal abnormality. This abnormality places her children at a small risk for having severe genetic abnormalities. Jerry and Monica first learn of the problem after their first baby, “Jack” (not his real name), is born and is later diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Jack requires 24/7 care. A few years later, Monica and Jerry want to have another baby and talk at length to their doctor about the chances for their next baby having problems similar to Jack’s. The doctor assures them that an “amniocentesis,” a special test performed early in Monica’s pregnancy, can all but rule out any genetic abnormalities. If the test shows abnormalities, they could then decide whether or not to terminate the pregnancy. Monica agrees to the plan and becomes pregnant some months later. Her doctor performed the amniocentesis at his office. The laboratory that analyzed the specimen results reports it as being normal in every respect. Jerry and Monica are greatly relieved and look forward to the birth of a normal, healthy baby. She is monitored often by her doctor, and her full-term pregnancy is totally normal. When she goes into labor, Jerry takes her to the local community hospital where her doctor is waiting. The labor is totally uneventful, and the baby is born vaginally. At delivery, Monica’s doctor (the same one who delivered Jack), instantly sees the same telltale signs of Jack’s genetic abnormality. “Tommy” is later diagnosed with the exact chromosomal deficiency as his brother, Jack. Jerry and Monica now have two children, both severely impaired with cerebral palsy and both requiring 24/7 care for the rest of the children’s lives.

WHO IS LIABLE AND WHAT HAPPENED: Our investigation determined that Monica’s doctor sent the amniocentesis specimen to a genetics testing lab. We obtained the slides of Monica’s sample. We then engaged a nationally recognized physician board-certified by the American Board of Medical Genetics. Her laboratory is under contract with a number of major hospitals in the Southern California region to evaluate amniocentesis specimens. We met with her as she reviewed the slides. She told us that the lab tech made a terrible mistake in reporting that the sample was “normal” when signs that key chromosomes were “translocated” were unmistakable. She called it a “textbook case” of a lab that didn’t closely monitor its technicians or see that they were properly trained. She also told us that the cause of the baby’s cerebral palsy was 100 percent related to translocation. The lab’s own experts ultimately agreed. Result: The insurance company for the lab ultimately agreed to pay a multimillion-dollar settlement that will take care of Tommy’s medical, nursing and therapy needs for the rest of his life.

ACTUAL CEREBRAL PALSY CASE IN LOS ANGELES: ” Jill” (not her real name) is pregnant with her first child, and she and her husband, “Tom” (not his real name), are very excited. Since her late teens, Jill has been an insulin-dependent Type 1 diabetic, but is under good control when she learns she is pregnant. Her family doctor refers her to an OB-GYN, “Dr. Smith” (not his real name), who tells Jill that this will be a “high-risk” pregnancy due to her diabetes. He also tells her there is a 90 percent chance she will need a C-section because diabetic mothers tend to have larger babies. Jill is closely watched by Dr. Smith who, at every visit, assures her that her pregnancy was normal and going very well. He sees Jill every week during the last six weeks of her pregnancy. Dr. Smith does not see Jill the week before he induced her. Jill has a long and complicated labor. The fetal monitor strips revealed that her baby was in distress, but the hospital’s nurses fail to recognize this and/or fail to report it to Dr. Smith. Throughout the second stage of labor, the nurses continue to give Jill Pitocin, which promotes stronger and more frequent contractions. With each contraction, her baby is placed under increased stress and his oxygen reserves are further depleted. Dr. Smith is called in by the nurses. Jill’s second stage of labor is allowed to last 4 1/2 hours while her baby remains stuck in her birth canal due to “shoulder dystocia” (a common complication with diabetic mothers). With each contraction, the baby’s head is further compressed and traumatized. Dr. Smith has failed to plan for a C-section and is forced to pull and twist the baby to extract him from the birth canal. By the time he is finally delivered, the trauma of his birth and lack of oxygen have caused him severe brain damage. He will require 24/7 care for the rest of his life.

WHO IS LIABLE AND WHAT HAPPENED: We had this reviewed by a team of highly qualified experts in obstetrics, perinatology, pediatric neuroradiology and nursing.

As to Dr. Smith, our experts said that he breached the standard of care because he: failed to order sufficient nonstress tests (“NST”) on this high-risk patient; ignored suspicious NST findings; ordered Pitocin despite clear evidence that the baby was in trouble and allowed Jill’s labor in her second stage for 4 1/2 hours; and, despite clear evidence of fetal compromise, failed to perform a C-section.

As to the nurses, our experts said they breached the standard of care for failing to follow the hospital’s Policy and Procedure Manual. They failed to set up the proper treatment plan for this high-risk pregnancy; improperly administered Pitocin; failed to promptly notify Dr. Smith about Jill’s clear-cut evidence of nonreassuring signs and fetal compromise; failed to act as Jill’s “patient advocate” by failing to recommend to Dr. Smith that he perform a C-section; and failed to “go up the chain of command” and get an order for the C-section assuming Dr. Smith failed to follow their recommendation.

The baby, “Jeremy” (not his real name), is blind, can’t walk without assistance, doesn’t speak, can’t feed himself and is severely cognitively impaired. He will require 24/7 care for the rest of his life. His future medical expense was estimated by our life-care planner and a forensic economist as being more than $9 million.

Result: We were ultimately successful in obtaining a multimillion-dollar settlement for Jeremy that will pay for all the care needs for the rest of his life. Jill is his primary caregiver and can no longer work at her usual job. The settlement provided for her to receive compensation to partially offset her loss of income.

Doctor And Surgical Malpractice

ACTUAL DOCTOR MALPRACTICE CASE IN VENTURA COUNTY: “Georgia” (not her real name) sees her surgeon, “Dr. Jones” (not his real name), to replace breast implants that he placed in the early 1990s. Dr. Jones says the surgery would take about two hours to complete. Instead, it takes four hours. Dr. Jones comes into the waiting room and tells Georgia’s husband and sister that surgery went well and that there were no complications. When Dr. Jones removes her bandages in about 10 days, Georgia sees that her breasts are horribly deformed. Half of her left breast is gone, and the right breast is off-center compared to the left and misshapen. Dr. Jones reassures her that her condition “will improve with time” and he can “fix” any future problems. Georgia gets a second opinion and is told that something went terribly wrong during the last procedure and that it will cost $75,000 to repair the damage.

WHO WAS LIABLE AND WHAT HAPPENED: We suspected that Dr. Jones was himself medically impaired when he took Georgia to surgery. He refused to release any of his own medical records and was finally ordered to do so by the judge. Our suspicions were confirmed. Our experts testified that Dr. Jones failed to properly perform the surgery; that, based on his own medical records, he was medically impaired and was taking medications that can cause sleepiness, dizziness, fatigue and double vision, all of which made him unfit to perform the procedure; and that he failed to get consent to do the extensive surgery he performed. Result: Dr. Jones’ insurance company paid for Georgia’s future surgery and the maximum allowed under California law for her pain and suffering.

ACTUAL CASE IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY: “Jim” (not his real name) has severe pain in his lower back and sees his chiropractor who orders an MRI. The MRI shows 4-5 mm herniated disks at two levels. The chiropractor refers Jim to a pain management specialist, “Dr. Williams” (not his real name). Dr. Williams recommends a series of three epidural injections into Jim’s lower back, including at level L4-5. The first injection went as planned. A week later, Jim had the second injection and, a few hours later, he developed pain and numbness in both legs. He could not walk. An ambulance took him to the ER where the doctor orders another MRI. This MRI showed that part of the disk Dr. Williams injected broke away. That fragment is pressing against the L5 nerve and is the cause of Jim’s excruciating leg pain and inability to walk. By the time Jim finally has surgery a few weeks later, the damage is done and can’t be reversed. Jim will have terrible pain in his back and legs for the rest of his life.

WHO WAS LIABLE AND WHAT HAPPENED: Dr. Williams denied any responsibility for Jim’s outcome. Our team of experts reviewed Dr. Williams’ records very carefully and proved otherwise. They determined that Dr. Williams breached the standard of care because: The second procedure had been proven to be ineffective in controlling pain; he over-injected the L4-5 disk causing it to rupture; he performed two procedures in too short a time period, i.e., within one week of each other; and he failed to immediately refer Jim to a neurosurgeon for surgical intervention following the second epidural even though he was fully aware of Jim’s severe symptoms and ER visit that same day. Result: Dr. Williams’ insurance company paid the maximum allowed under California law for Jim’s pain and suffering and $200,000 for his future medical expense.

ACTUAL CASE IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY: “Leah” (not her real name), age 41, married with a teenage daughter, is admitted to the hospital for severe abdominal pain. “Dr. Miller” (not his real name) diagnoses her as having pancreatitis, a painful condition that generally improves with treatment and rest. He prescribes Dilaudid, which is known to suppress respiration. Two days after she is admitted, Leah complains of shortness of breath. On the third day, she complains of chest pain and her oxygen saturation level falls to 87 percent. Dr. Miller orders some tests, but doesn’t go to the hospital to examine her. The test results are abnormal, and Dr. Miller calls a pulmonary specialist, “Dr. Morgan,” and tells him that “something is terribly wrong … maybe it’s a pulmonary embolism” and asks that he see Leah that night. Dr. Morgan calls the hospital, speaks to Leah’s nurse and orders more tests, but does not go to the hospital to see Leah. Meanwhile, the nurses continue to give Dilaudid to Leah. Her oxygen saturation is about 85 percent even though she is given oxygen 24/7. A few hours later — and about 20 minutes after the nurse last checks her — Leah stops breathing. The nurse calls a Code Blue and the team resuscitates her. No one knew how long Leah was deprived of oxygen, but it was for a long enough time to cause her major, irreversible brain damage.

WHO IS LIABLE AND WHAT HAPPENED: After a thorough review of a large amount of medical records, our experts in internal medicine, pulmonary medicine, neuroradiology and nursing determined virtually all of Leah’s health care providers breached the standard of care. In brief, Dr. Miller failed to follow up after receiving nonreassuring test results. Dr. Miller also failed to confirm that Dr. Morgan had agreed to see Leah that night. Dr. Morgan failed to go to the hospital to examine Leah, failed to order appropriate tests and failed to have Leah immediately transferred to the ICU so she could be more closely monitored. The nurses failed to properly and timely assess Leah; they failed to properly record her vital signs; they knew her oxygen saturation was low, but continued to give her Dilaudid, which they knew or should have known could suppress her respiration. Lastly, there was a total lack of coordination among the entire team of health care providers. Result: The insurance companies for Dr. Miller, Dr. Morgan and the hospital paid a multimillion-dollar settlement so that Leah could receive 24/7 care. It also paid her husband $250,000 (the statutory maximum in medical malpractice cases) for the devastating effect all of this had on their marriage.