Dodge v. Arda Tezel - $13 million Jury Verdict for a Pedestrian Seriously Injured by a Negligent Driver.
At the time he was hit, the plaintiff was walking to a train station and was in a pedestrian crosswalk at an intersection governed by a flashing light. He had made it more than half way across the street when the defendant's Honda Accord plowed into him. The impact was so great that the victim was lifted onto the hood of the Honda, shattering the windshield, crumpling the front roof line and causing ripples in the rear passenger side roof. The Honda came to rest 98 feet beyond the place of impact.
In the accident, our client suffered a fracture of his cervical spine at C6-C7, which left him permanently paralyzed from the chest down. He also suffered an 8 inch degloving injury to his scalp. As a result, he underwent numerous operations and almost a year of rehabilitation. His medical expenses totaled more than $700,000.
Success at trial required careful preparation of both the liability and damages cases.
Defendant's counsel argued that the defendant was not speeding, and that it was so dark and was raining so hard that he could not see the victim in the crosswalk. Defense counsel referred to our client as the "invisible" pedestrian. To counter that claim, James Gotz offered into evidence photographs taken by the police within an hour of the crash which rebutted the contention that it was too dark to see a pedestrian in the crosswalk. Defendant's accident reconstruction expert testified that the driver wasn't speeding, but his credibility was undercut by simple and surgical cross-examination. First, James established that he had fabricated portions of his resume, including the assertion that he had been certified as an "accident reconstructionist" in 1976 when in fact there was no such accreditation at that time. Also, the expert based many of his calculations of speed by testing an "exemplar" vehicle which turned out to be the wrong model Honda Accord (he used a 4-door instead of a 2-door).
On the damages side, through the use of a life care expert and a forensic economist, we established health care expenses lost earnings of between $7 million and $10 million for different scenarios. A "Day in the Life" film was prepared to show the jury the travails that the victim faces every day of his new life.
The jury's verdict appears to accept all of the economic damage calculations offered by the plaintiff. They also added approximately $3 million for pain and suffering.
The Dodge verdict proves the old axiom that the three key elements for trial are preparation, preparation and preparation. The time James spent dissecting the defense expert's resume proved instrumental in the jury's rejection of his opinions and accepting all of our arguments on behalf of our client.