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Recent Cases of San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer

Recent Cases

Mack v. Kurelko/RB Brown Trucking Co.

San Joaquin County Superior Court, Stockton, California
Trial Date: Sept. 2, 2006

Plaintiff Donald Mack, a 38-year old truck driver for USF Reddaway, Inc., was sitting in his cab at a truck stop fuel bay in Lodi, California. Another trucker, the defendant, was involved in an altercation in the truck stop restaurant, spilling out into the parking lot. The defendant attempted to flee the scene of this altercation by exiting the truck stop entrance. He swerved at the last moment and struck the rear trailer of Plaintiff’s rig, knocking him from the driver’s seat onto his head on the passenger floorboard. Defendant trucker then fled the scene of the incident.

Plaintiff Mack sustained two herniated disks in his lumbar spine, requiring laminectomy/discectomy surgery.

Pretrial Offer: $25,000
Pretrial Demand: $500,000

Jury Verdict: $1,229,000 The jury was out 90 minutes after three-week trial.

Attorney Edward Babbitt was awarded Outstanding Trial Lawyer Award in 2007 for prosecuting this case.

Grant v. Logan/Mount Trucking

U. S. District Court, Southern District of California
Case Type: Personal Injury

Plaintiff, a 51-year old heart transplant patient, was riding his motorcycle eastbound on Interstate 8 near the downgrade to El Centro. He was approaching a tractor-trailer rig in the no. 2 lane driven by Defendant Anita Logan and owned by Defendant Mount Trucking Inc. Defendant Logan admittedly was traveling 50 to 55 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone for tractor-trailer rigs on the downgrade. Defendant attempted to pass a slower-moving tractor-trailer in front of her at the same time that Plaintiff, approaching defendant’s vehicle from the rear at a speed of 70 mph, attempted to pass defendant’s vehicle. As both vehicles simultaneously merged into the no. 1 lane, plaintiff’s motorcycle was forced off the road without contact between the two vehicles, and lost control in the gravel.

Plaintiff sustained serious and significant injuries, including thoracic and lumbar vertebrae fractures, requiring extensive open reduction and internal fixation, brain damage, and road rash. The CHP officer investigating the collision, as well as 5 independent witnesses, concluded liability adverse to the plaintiff and in favor of defendant truck driver.

Attorney Babbitt was brought this case by two other attorneys who had initially retained the plaintiff as a client and filed the lawsuit in federal court. Attorney Babbitt was retained for evaluation purposes on liability and damages, and to act as lead trial counsel. Prior to Mr. Babbitt’s involvement, plaintiff had medical bills totaling $900,000. Prior counsel was attempting to settle the case on a compromise basis of $750,000 to $1,000,000. Defendants rejected their compromised settlement.

Mr. Babbitt investigated the scene of the collision and determined defendant driver had made an unlawful passing maneuver, given the reduced speed restrictions on tractor-trailer rigs on the 6% downgrade. During discovery, defendant driver failed to appear for her deposition and failed to respond to discovery requests. Mr. Babbitt moved the court for an order to compel deposition and responses. Subsequent to the order being granted, defendant driver failed again to appear for her deposition and respond to discovery. A motion for issue sanctions was brought by Mr. Babbitt, and the court ordered as a matter of law that liability was conclusive against defendant driver, and defendants were not allowed to present evidence at trial of contributory negligence on the part of plaintiff.

Defendants settled for their $2 million policy limits three weeks later

Sudul v. AT Systems

San Diego Superior Court

19-year old John Sudul was leaving his job as a box boy at the Stater Bros. Market in Ramona, California. While traveling on Highway 67, an armored truck owned and operated by AT Systems made an unlawful entry onto the highway, colliding with Plaintiff Sudul’s vehicle, causing it to roll over three times and ejecting plaintiff. Plaintiff sustained a fractured clavicle, two broken ribs, multiple lacerations to his back and side, and mild brain damage.

The defense was able to establish that plaintiff was not wearing his seatbelt at the time of the collision as grounds for comparative negligence. Medical specials were approximately $300,000. Attorney Babbitt was able to settle the case two months before trial for the amount of $850,000.

Settlement: $850,000

Del Ponte v. Farmers Insurance

Case Type: Wrongful Death

Claimants Edward DelPonte and Martha Marrokal were the parents of 20-year old Sarah Del Ponte. Sarah Del Ponte was killed in a single vehicle auto collision with a telephone pole. Sarah was a passenger. The defendant driver who walked away from the scene was a twice-convicted felon driving a stolen vehicle under the influence of alcohol and methamphetamine. There were allegations that the defendant driver had killed Sarah Del Ponte prior to the accident and staged the accident in order to cover up a murder.

Following successful negotiations with Farmers Insurance Company, Attorney Babbitt was able to persuade Farmers Insurance Company to pay the $500,000 UM policy limits.

Settlement: $500,000

Loney v. Hum

San Diego County Superior Court
Judge: Hon. Gonzalo Curiel
Date: August 24, 2012

This is a bicycle versus vehicle collision where Defendant’s vehicle crossed into the bike lane and forced Plaintiff into the curb, ejecting him from his bicycle.

Defendant denied liability claiming Plaintiff came out of the bike lane and struck her.

Injuries: Fractured collarbone; fractured hip (no treatment); dislocated shoulder (no treatment); lumbar disk herniation (no surgery). Three-day hospital stay.

Medical bills: $60,000
Loss of Earnings: $2,000
Plaintiff’s Demand: $450,000
Liberty Mutual/Defendant Offer at Trial: $200,000

Settlement During Trial: $450,000

Godwin v. Dameron

San Diego County Superior Court
Judge: Hon. Timothy B. Taylor
Date: March 14, 2013

Plaintiff is a motorcycle rider who split lanes at an intersection with a red light. When the light turned green, he accelerated rapidly. Defendant was in incoming traffic and thought she had a green left-turn arrow. Plaintiff’s motorcycle and Defendant’s SUV collided. Defendant denied liability until two minutes before opening statement.

Injuries: ACL rupture/iliotibial ligament tear/collateral ligament tear/comminuted fracture of right hand with hardware.

Medicals: $130,000
Loss of earnings: $12,000
Plaintiff’s demand: $350,000
State Farm Offer at trial: $200,000

Verdict: $929,103

Total with costs and interest: $1,035.682

Mr. Babbitt received this case from another attorney one month before trial.
Mr. Babbitt received a CASD Outstanding Trial Lawyer Award for this case in 2013.

Center v. EDCO

San Diego Superior Court
Judge: Hon. Eddie C. Sturgeon
Date: May 17, 2013

Plaintiff was driving his dump truck and exiting EDCO waste facility. He was waiting for traffic to clear at an intersection when he was struck by Defendant’s tractor-trailer. Plaintiff had been turned and talking with his passenger when Defendant passed him on left and made a wide right turn. The rear of the trailer struck the left front corner of Plaintiff’s truck, tearing off the bumper.

Defendant denied liability all through trial. This was potentially a defensible case due to facts and inattention of Plaintiff.

Injuries: Full thickness rotator cuff tear with surgery. Some residual loss of range of motion.

Medical bills: $60,000
Demand: $175,000
Offer on Day of Trial: $20,000

Verdict: $430,994

Defense expert Greg Bohart was not allowed to testify. At deposition he stated he had no opinion as to causation of the rotator cuff tear. Skip Babbitt’s motion in limine to preclude Dr. Bohart as an unnecessary witness was granted.

Mr. Babbitt received this case from another attorney one month before trial.

Rutledge v. Schmidt

San Diego County Superior Court
Judge: Hon. William S. Dato
Date: March 6, 2013

Defendant’s sandal stuck on the accelerator as she exited southbound I-805 at Telegraph Canyon Road. Defendant’s vehicle crossed the divider on the street and impacted Plaintiff’s vehicle. Plaintiff sustained straining injuries to her neck.

Three months prior to the collision Plaintiff had obtained a full-time position at a school district after working there part-time for 5 years. One month after the collision, Plaintiff’s employer called her to say that if she could not get a doctor’s note that her condition was 100% resolved, she would have to go back to part-time. Plaintiff told the doctor she was 100% fine in order to keep her full-time status.

Plaintiff and her husband testified at trial that they needed her job in order to pay bills and support the family. Plaintiff testifies she still has daily neck pain and headaches despite telling her doctor she was fine one month after the accident.

Plaintiff’s Demand: $15,499
Farmers’/Defendant’s offer: $7,200

Verdict: $38,341

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    • Outstanding Trail Lawyer (2007, 2013)
    • Consumer Attorney of San Diego Legal Education Committee Chairman (2010-present)
    • Consumer Attorney of San Diego Legal Education Director (2010-14)
    • San Diego Inn of Court President (2012)
    • American Board of Trial Advocates (2012-present)
    • San Diego Attorney Journal - Outstanding Lawyer of the Month (Aug. 2013)
    • Consumer Advocate of the Year (2013)

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