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Trials Digest

Trials Digest chart




Van rollover

Verdict: $4,697,347

Forty-eight-year-old professor on a field trip in an Econoline van was left a quadriplegic after the van rolled over and he was pinned in his seat by the collapsed roof (Lee v. California Institute of Technology, Los Angeles County Superior Court, Plaintiff attorney: Christine Spagnoli).

Fall through skylight

Settlement: $2,650,000

Ten-year-old boy fell 11 feet through a skylight on the roof of his apartment building that lacked adequate protective barriers (Confidential v. RAC Enterprises LLC, Orange County Superior Court, Plaintiff attorney: Christopher R. Aitken).

Short deliberations

Verdict: Defense

Jury needed just 45 minutes to find for defense in vehicle accident case in which plaintiff originally demanded $1.5 million (Chavez v. Topete, San Diego County Superior Court, Defense attorney: Norman A. Ryan).

Fuel fire

Settlement: $20,375,000

Driver of a refueling truck for airplanes was severely burned when the truck burst into flames (McKaye v. Aviation Fuel Truck Manufacturer, Los Angeles County Superior Court, Plaintiff attorney: Steven V. Angarella).

Foster home abuse

Verdict: $30,000,000

Former foster child was repeatedly sexually abused for years by his foster father; poor oversight alleged (Confidential v. Giarretto Institute, Santa Clara County Superior Court, Plaintiff attorney: Stephen Estey).


Settlement: $108,000,000

Federal Trade Commission brought an enforcement action against Countrywide Home Loans for unlawful practices in servicing mortgage loans (Federal Trade Commission v. Countrywide Home Loans Inc., Central District Federal Court, Plaintiff attorney: Willard K. Tom).

Cow on highway

Settlement: $1,350,000

An 800-pound cow that wandered onto a highway was struck by a semi-rig and propelled onto a driver’s Geo Prism, killing him instantly (Aguilera de Gonzalez v. Tankersley, Mendocino County Superior Court, Plaintiff attorney: Robert C. Peterson).


Verdict: $1,590,000

Corporation owner claimed that he was forced to sign a “shareholder agreement” under duress and was thereafter excluded from management and profit-sharing (Koo v. Hong, Los Angeles County Superior Court, Plaintiff attorney: Robin Mashal).

Pedestrian struck

Verdict: $12,200,000

Seventeen-year-old girl was struck in a marked crosswalk and left in a permanent vegetative state (Liou v. State of California, San Mateo County Superior Court, Plaintiff attorney: Douglas Saeltzer).

Leg amputation

Settlement: $1,500,000

Victim of motorcycle crash alleged that inadequate medical care of his leg injury resulted in its eventual amputation (Miller v. Barcelona, Los Angeles County Superior Court, Plaintiff attorney: Stacy L. Raphael).

Freeway rollover

Settlement: $2,200,000

Lane change, erratic driving by defendant vehicle caused victim’s car to go out of control and roll over (Confidential v. Confidential, Los Angeles County Superior Court, Plaintiff attorney: Roger Booth).

Rear-end collision

Settlement: $3,689,000

Rear-end collision of a van on I-5 by a cargo truck left the van driver a paraplegic (Garibay v. California Watercress Inc., unfiled settlement, Plaintiff attorney: Douglas D. Shaffer).

Editor's Note: California Bar Journal publishes this abbreviated summary of important trials in California provided by Trials Digest. To report your case results, go to or call 415-344-3952.