Our client, Yoav T., a 40-year-old line cook at Alta Bates Hospital, was driving his motorcycle on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland when he struck a car which pulled out in front of him from a side street. The driver, Natalie V., stated she looked both ways before entering the intersection but did not see him. Yoav suffered torn cartilage and a torn anterior cruciate ligament (“ACL”) in his right knee, as well as a fracture and torn rotator cuff of his right shoulder.
After having two operations to repair his knee and shoulder, Yoav was no longer able to perform his job as a cook, so he went back to college to retrain himself to a new occupation. Since the case could not resolve informally, partner Dale Minami and associate Eunice Yang began litigation but proposed binding arbitration, since that forum offered advantages to Yoav. The case was tried by Minami Tamaki Partner B. Mark Fong and Associate Eunice Yang.
At arbitration, the car driver denied fault and hired an accident reconstruction expert who claimed Yoav was speeding. She also put on a vocational expert who claimed Yoav’s plan to go back to school to retrain himself was unreasonable and he should have been able to find work at the same rate of pay as before his accident within one year after his last surgery.
The theme we presented to the arbitrator was that Yoav’s inability to be a cook any longer, after years of working in the restaurant industry, was not simply the loss of a job but the loss of his dream of being a cook/chef. The arbitrator awarded total damages to Yoav and his wife (who sued for loss of consortium) of $740,432.75. $375,000 of this award was for Yoav’s pain and suffering.