Brenda K. (fictitious name), a 76-year-old married artist, fell down a dark staircase at night at a retreat center in rural Marin County where she was attending a weekend conference. There were no witnesses to the fall and she was found by other guests who heard her cries for help after she landed close to the bottom of the staircase.
Although there were serious issues with proving negligence and causation, our discovery showed that lighting on the stairs was less than the minimum required by the building code and one of the handrails of the stairs did not extend to the bottom of the staircase, which was also a code violation and would have contributed to her falling while descending the stairs in the dark.
Brenda was airlifted by helicopter ambulance to John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek where she was hospitalized from February 21 to April 13, 2009. She was diagnosed as a C6 quadriplegic and underwent fixation of fractures at the C4/C5 level in her neck; laminectomy surgeries of the C3 through C7 levels; and implantation of surgical rods and hardware from C4 to C6. She was transferred to California Pacific Medical Center where she stayed from April 13 to June 5, 2009.
Brenda’s medical expenses, which were paid by Medicare, were approximately $490,000. The retreat center had an insurance policy of $3 million. Senior Counsel Mark Fong, Partner Dale Minami and co-counsel Steve Cavalli settled her claim for damages and her husband’s claim for loss of companionship and services for $2.9 million.
Hanna P. (fictitious name), a 22-year old mathematics student at the University of California, Berkeley, was walking home from campus when she was struck by a sedan in 2007 on a busy Berkeley intersection. She was slammed to the ground, striking her face. She fractured four teeth and needed implants and bone grafts.
Partner Dale Minami, Senior Counsel Mark Fong and Associate Eunice W. Yang obtained the $25,000 policy limits of the driver of the sedan, and in addition, obtained a $540,000 settlement for Hanna at mediation against her own insurance company under an Underinsured Motorist Claim. In addition, the team claimed reimbursement of $20,000 medical payments. In total, the team recovered $585,000 for Hanna.
The bone graft, insertion of implants, and placing of crowns required almost 18 months of painful procedures and her consultants felt she would require two or three more such procedures in her lifetime. In addition to the fractured teeth, Hanna suffered a fractured nose and continual headaches, which were diagnosed by the prosthodontist to whom we referred Hanna. Fortunately, the prosthodontist discovered the problem and was able to create a splint for Jenny that helped reduce the frequency and severity of headaches.
Hanna’s insurance company disputed this claim and felt she would not require another implant, offering $340,000 to settle the case. Our team was able to convince the insurance company that she would be a chronic dental patient, suffer headaches for the rest of her life and compromise the delicate anatomy and physiology of her teeth and mouth. The settlement will compensate Hanna for her past pain and suffering and medical bills and will pay for Hanna’s future dental needs and the pain and inconvenience of her future procedures.
Fred F. (fictitious name), a 51-year-old home care provider, was driving in the course and scope of his employment as a caregiver in San Francisco. Fred was struck by a Hummer rented from the Hertz Corporation and driven by a foreign tourist making an illegal turn on a red light. He was taken by ambulance to the emergency room of the local hospital, where Fred’s treating physicians inadvertently injured his spinal cord rendering him a partial quadriplegic.
Senior Counsel Mark Fong, Partner Dale Minami and Associate Eunice Yang handled the auto accident claim, which settled for Hertz’s policy limits of $1 million, and later settled the claim against the physicians and the hospital for $2.1 million.
Fred faced a number of challenges in settling the medical malpractice case. First, non-economic damages were capped at $250,000 due to the California Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975. His past and future wage loss claim was $252,157.
The defendants argued that Fred’s claim for future medical expenses was unrecoverable as a matter of law, as the compensation carrier had agreed to provide him with lifetime medical care. Through experts in healthcare financial administration, life care planning and workers compensation utilization review, our team argued that workers compensation is unlikely to pay for much of the treatment he will need over the next 30 years, leaving him exposed at the time when he will most need care.
The team settled the medical malpractice case for $2.1 million, recovering all of Fred’s wages and the terms of the settlement provides Fred with the lifetime care that he needs.
Sumiko S. (fictitious name), a 32-year old, was visiting an acquaintance in San Ramon, when she was viciously attacked by the homeowner’s pit bull/Welsh corgi mix in 2009. While she was petting the dog, it suddenly jumped up and bite Sumiko’s face and upper lip, causing serious injuries to about a third of her lip.
Partner Dale Minami handled the case for this client and was able to arrange for a renowned plastic surgeon to repair Sumiko’s lip as it was so severely mangled that she needed four stages of reconstructive plastic surgery. The first surgery was needed to repair her upper lip by removing the damaged tissue from Sumiko’s face and lip. The subsequent three stages of surgery included a procedure to rejuvenate the skin on the lip, then reconstruct the delicate features of her mouth.
Sumiko also suffered emotional distress including nightmares and flashbacks rising from the attack and was despondent over facial disfigurement.
The case settled for $300,000, the homeowner’s policy limits, which provides Sumiko with the option of pursuing further reconstructive surgery in the future and psychological care as needed.
Membership in National Trial Lawyers can only be obtained through special invitation and is extended to attorneys who exemplify superior qualifications, leadership, reputation, influence, stature, and profile as trial lawyers, both civil plaintiff and criminal defense.
Mark is a trial lawyer with 30 years experience who has obtained multi-million dollar settlements and large verdicts, specializing in the trial of catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, product liability, premises liability and medical malpractice cases throughout California in State and Federal Court.
One of the top personal injury lawyers in the Bay Area, Mark has also been named a Northern California Super Lawyer in the Personal Injury category and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. He is rated “AV” by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, signifying the highest level of legal ability and professional standards of ethics. Mark is also listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers for high professional legal standards and ethics.
Membership to the organization is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts, awards and settlements. Fewer than one percent of U.S. lawyers are members.
Forum membership acknowledges excellence in advocacy, and provides members with a national network of experienced colleagues for professional referral and information exchange in major cases. Members must have acted as principal counsel in at least one case in which their client has received a verdict, award or settlement in the amount of one million dollars or more.
Jane D (fictitious name), a 75-year-old mother of five children and grandmother of 10, was returning home from her morning walk when she was struck by a commercial vehicle in 2009 on a busy San Francisco intersection. She suffered serious injuries that crushed her pelvis and eventually required amputation of her left leg.
Jane had walked three to five steps into the crosswalk when the driver, John R. (also fictitious name), struck her while making a right turn in his company-owned vehicle. Because the driver claimed he never saw her, Jane was dragged for six feet after she was hit, leaving a trail of bloody tissue on the street.
When the truck finally came to a halt, Jane had suffered de-gloving injuries to both legs, multiple foot, leg and pelvic fractures, and extensive abdominal injuries. She was transported to San Francisco General Hospital in critical condition.
Jane sued the truck driver, John R., for motor vehicle negligence, and John’s employer for negligent hiring, training and supervision of their driver.
Senior Associate Seth Rosenberg obtained a $145,000 settlement from the City of Berkeley and Comcast late last year for client V. Carrillo (not the client’s real name), who suffered a severely broken hand (requiring surgery) in 2006 from a bicycle incident in Berkeley, Calif.
Carrillo, then a student at the University of California, Berkeley, was riding his bicycle with his girlfriend at night when he rode into an unseen, deep pothole filled with water on University Avenue. Upon riding into the pothole, he was ejected. His left arm and hand felt numb, and he could not move his fingers. Carrillo removed the gloves he had on and noticed that his left pinky finger was bent abnormally to the side and the knuckle of his ring finger was severely indented.
Partner Dale Minami recently settled a case for client M. Jay (not the person’s real name), a 60-year-old, self-employed dentist who suffered injuries when his car was hit by an oncoming car in Sept. 2008 in Oakland.
Dr. Jay’s injuries were so severe that he was forced to take months off from his private practice, and in the process, losing many of his patients who had to find other dentists. The $510,000 settlement that Minami was able to obtain for Dr. Jay will help cover past and future loss of income and medical costs. The amount was the maximum recovery under Dr. Jay’s insurance policy with the California State Automobile Association (CSAA).
The collision occurred when a car driven by Ms. Karl entered the same intersection as Dr. Jay going in the opposite direction, and Ms. Karl suddenly made a left turn into the intersection, colliding with Dr. Jay’s car, totalling the vehicle. Ms. Karl had only $25,000 of coverage, which was recovered before the remaining $475,000 was paid by Dr. Jay’s own insurance company. IN addition, Minami obtained a waiver from CSAA of $10,000 in medical expenses which they could have claimed as an offset to the $500,000.
Ms. Karl claimed that she did not see Dr. Jay’s vehicle or any oncoming traffic. An independent witness verified Dr. Jay’s version of the collision, as did the investigating officer, who found Ms. Karl at fault.