Lawyers from the firm Lee & Associates P.C. won a net jury verdict of $8.3 million for a skateboarder who collided with a car in Cerritos, California. Samuel Kim, the plaintiff was represented at the trial by Jae Y. Lee and Daniel E. Hoffman.
At the time of the incident, Kim was a minor and was not wearing a helmet as he crossed an intersection on the board. It was then when he traveled into a car driven by Arsham Baltayan, an employee of a car dealership who was driving in the scope of his work. Baltayan was turning right on a red light and Kim was unable to stop in time and struck the right passenger side of the car. The impact threw Kim to the pavement, and he maintained he suffered a traumatic brain injury which resulted in personality and behavioral changes.
Once he became a legal adult, the plaintiff sued Baltayan, alleging the defendant was negligent in choosing not to keep a proper lookout and yield to a skateboarder with the right-of-way in the crosswalk.
Baltayan maintained that he had exercised due care and caution in stopping and looking carefully in all directions before slowly proceeding into the intersection, and argued that he was in the process of making a lawful right turn when Kim struck the side of his car. Baltayan testified that he was nearly through the intersection when Kim struck his car. Another witness corroborated that testimony.
The defendants also contended that Kim was comparatively negligent in choosing not to wear a helmet as required by state law and that he failed to stop at the intersection or press the pedestrian “walk” button before entering. Lastly, the defendants argued that Kim’s head injury was relatively minor and that any personality changes he suffered were the result of other unrelated causes.
The jury’s verdict of $11 million allocated fault at 75% on the defendants and 25% to Kim. The verdict included $8.5 million for future life care costs, $1.5 million for future pain and suffering and $1 million for past pain and suffering.
After reduction for fault (75%/25%), the verdict totaled $8.25 million. After this trial, the parties settled the case for $8.3 million paid by the defendants’ joint insurer.
The case is Kim v. Baltayan, No. 30-2011-00527824 (Cal. Super. Ct. Orange County).