Irvine Insurance Defense Attorney Holds Award in Drunk Driver Case to Zero
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.