December 2016, Scott Macdonald and Laura Reichenbach obtained a defense verdict in Orange County in a truck versus pedestrian collision.
Defendants were a mechanic and his employer. Defendant driver was on his way to a designated job location in the early morning hours in his company vehicle. He was on Beach Boulevard in Anaheim which has four lanes in each direction separated by a median. Defendant was northbound on Beach Boulevard. It was dark, and poorly lit. Defendant was driving within the speed limit in the farthest right lane next to the curb. Plaintiff was attempting to cross Beach Boulevard from the east to the west and was not in a crosswalk, though a crosswalk was very close for her use. She was wearing all dark clothing and was utilizing a walker. Plaintiff was well into the curb lane when she became visible to defendant driver. Defendant driver attempted to brake, but he could not avoid the collision.
Through accident reconstruction experts and a human factors expert, defendants were able to demonstrate that there was simply nothing defendant could do to avoid the collision. In fact, plaintiff was in a much better position to avoid the collision than defendant driver. The jury agreed with the defense and found that defendant driver was not negligent.
One Million Dollar Award and Substantial Contributory Negligence For Case Involving Deceased 16-Year-Old in Long Beach
August 2016, When Macdonald & Cody, LLP was opening its doors, Scott Macdonald and Laura Reichenbach were in trial in Long Beach in a wrongful death case involving a 16-year-old who was crushed to death by a speed boat that hit a jet ski upon which the 16 year old was a passenger. The driver of the jet ski sustained serious injuries. The driver of the jet ski and parents of the deceased 16 year old sued defendant who had serviced the subject jet ski shortly before the accident. The claim was that water had been left in the fuel system thereby causing a loss of power and put the jet ski to be in a position to be struck by a speed boat leaving a no wake zone.
The matter was tried to a jury in Long Beach. Plaintiff asked for a multi-million dollar verdict. While the jury found liability, the jury only put 40% negligence upon our client. The jury awarded $1,000,010 in damages to the parents of the deceased 16-year-old. The driver plaintiff, who had severely fractured his pelvis and had ongoing back complaints was awarded $340,000.
$1,500,000 had been offered before trial. There had been extensive negotiations throughout trial to resolve the case. Post-trial, plaintiff’s faced a significant challenge on appeal due to a motion for Directed Verdict on liability which it was our position was improperly denied. The case settled post-trial for a sum far below the verdict and substantially less than our pre-trial offer.
April 2016, in his second of back-to-back alleged traumatic brain injury cases in Orange County, Scott Macdonald was successful in securing a reasonable demand of $34,000 in the face of a multi-million-dollar demand.
Plaintiff, a young man, was walking in a crosswalk with his brother when our client collided with him. He had a very large contusion to the side of his head. Plaintiff claimed that he had sustained a traumatic brain injury with residual deficit in cognitive function. Utilizing school records we were able to establish that while there was a mild concussion, there was no residual deficit.
Compelling conclusions by the defense
Macdonald argued that care and treatment had not been required since December 2013 because there was no real brain injury. He pointed out that the neuropsychological testing done after the accident demonstrated no appreciable change from the assessments done in high school.
The defense conceded fault for the collision, causation of some injury and the possibility of aggravating a previously existing depressive condition. However, Macdonald contended the plaintiff did not meet his burden of proof for a traumatic brain injury as opposed to head trauma.
The bottom line
First, the plaintiff asked for the $100,000 policy limits, then increased the claim to $950,000. The sum rose to $2.15 million, and shortly before trial the plaintiff demanded $3.25 million. They accompanied the final demand with a threat that they would petition the jury for more than $10 million.
The CM team offered the plaintiff $100,000 before trial by way of a CCP 998 settlement, but no agreement could be reached.
At trial, the plaintiff requested an award of $2,719,722. Macdonald disputed their calculations and said the jury should assign a total between $18,000 and $73,000.
The jury awarded $34,302.63, and the defense will recover costs.
- Defendant hit pedestrian in a crosswalk
- Plaintiff’s demand: $2.7 million
- Jury’s award: $34,000
On March 23, 2016, the jury handed down a favorable verdict in a car accident case defended by Scott Macdonald. Macdonald represented an 86-year-old client who drove the wrong way on a city street, causing a head-on collision.
Estimated closing speed between the vehicles was 34 to 43 miles per hour. The collision was forceful enough that air bags deployed in both cars and the drivers went to the hospital by ambulance. The elderly defendant did not sustain significant injury.
The plaintiff, however, started down the path of treatment for orthopedic complaints and retained Larry Parker as counsel. Eventually the plaintiff underwent cervical fusion surgery and declared the need for a lumbar microdiscectomy.
New attorney, different direction
Then, more than three years after the accident, the plaintiff switched attorneys and the focus of the case. They came forward claiming a traumatic brain injury, in addition to the earlier neck and back complaints.
The plaintiff had variously demanded an award of $1 million and $2.3 million. Before the trial began, Macdonald argued that the case was valued between $0 and $89,000 and offered a $300,000 settlement.
The plaintiff refused and presented a life care plan for $4.1 million, with a total award of just over $6.9 million asked of the jury.
While admitting that perhaps the cervical surgery was related to accident, Macdonald disagreed that the collision was the source of the plaintiffs lumbar issues. And he convincingly argued that the plaintiff did not sustain a traumatic brain injury, as they were claiming. The plaintiffs team presented no past medical specials, only medical fees expected in the future.
The shrunken award
When the deliberations were over, the jury awarded $50,314 for future care, $5,000 in past pain and suffering and $5,000 in future pain and suffering. The award was further reduced by 40% for comparative negligence after Macdonald masterfully argued that plaintiff had done nothing to avoid the accident.Read More
February 2016, In this Long Beach case, Scott Macdonald brilliantly defended a drunk driver who rear-ended a stopped car. The facts were simple. The defendant driver, a doctor, hit a retired couple’s car while they were stopped at a red light. Two hours after the accident, the doctor registered a .20 blood alcohol level on a breathalyzer test at the police station. He pied no contest to the drunk driving charge.
Both plaintiffs went to their family doctor the day after accident. The wife followed up with four physical therapy visits. The husband, already being treated for a repetitive stress injury to his wrist, claimed that the collision exacerbated his problem. He contended that he ultimately required surgery because of it.
The defense team offered a settlement, but the plaintiffs had invested heavily in their case, hiring expert witnesses and more. They chose not to accept the offer.
A $1 million demand
The plaintiffs asked the jury for a total of nearly $1 million. In addition to the claim for injuries, they requested a hefty sum for punitive damages.
With not a single medical bill presented by the plaintiffs, Macdonald argued that the couple did not sustain injuries from the accident, and the jury agreed.
Instead, the couple wanted to be compensated entirely on the grounds of pain and suffering in the golden years of their retirement life.
The case hinged on jury instructions
While admitting the accident involved alcohol, Macdonald instructed the jury that it wasn’t their job to invoke punishment. A civil trial requires that the plaintiffs prove they experienced injuries and related costs, before there can be punitive damages. “You can’t give an award simply to compensate for anger,” he said.
Macdonald received a defense verdict and the plaintiffs received no award.Read More