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Verdicts & Settlements

October 14, 2011

Daily Journal

VERDICT: Defense.

CASE / NUMBER: Timothy Julian v. Vestar Properties, Inc. Sam's East Inc. / NC053865.

COURT / DATE: Los Angeles Superior San Pedro / Sept. 20, 2011.

JUDGE: Hon. Judith Vander Lans.

ATTORNEYS: Plaintiff - Edward J. Deason (Law Offices of Edward J. Deason, Torrance); Brian T. Pedigo (The Pedigo Law Corp., Irvine).

Defendant - Guy R. Gruppie, Gregory A. Sargenti (Murchison & Cumming, LLP, Los Angeles) for Vestar Properties, Inc.; Andrew N. Kohn (Pettit, Kohn, Ingrassia & Lutz, PC, San Diego) for Sam's East Inc.

MEDICAL EXPERTS: Plaintiff - William J. Mealer, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Manhattan Beach; Mark Spoonamore, M.D., spinal surgery, Los Angeles.

Defendant - Kendall S. Wagner, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Fullerton.

TECHNICAL EXPERTS: Plaintiff - John Brault, biomechanics, Mission Viejo; Mark Burns, safety engineering, Marina del Rey.

FACTS: Plaintiff Timothy Julian sued defendants following a Dec. 10, 2007 accident that occurred at the Long Beach Towne Center on property leased by defendant Sam's East Inc. and managed by defendant Vestar Property Management.

Plaintiff claimed that the storm grate shifted under his feet while he was loading more than 50 pounds of sodas he had purchased from Sam's into his vehicle.

PLAINTIFF'S CONTENTIONS: Plaintiff contended that the defendants negligently maintained the storm grate. Plaintiff further contended that the lack of maintenance caused it to move at least one inch when plaintiff stepped on it, causing plaintiff to lose his balance and causing his physical injuries.

DEFENDANT'S CONTENTIONS: Defendants denied liability offering evidence that Vestar's on-site property manager would personally walk the property, retained around the clock security service as well as a janitorial service with Sam's employees also frequently present assisting customers with loading their vehicles, cart runs and heavy use of the area by Sam's Tire Service Center employees.

INJURIES: Plaintiff claimed to have sustained significant orthopedic injuries to his left shoulder, lower back, left knee and left ankle. Plaintiff submitted to four separate surgeries including surgical repair of damage to his left ankle, lower back fusion, left shoulder and left knee which resulted in recoverable damages, following the Supreme Court's recent decision in Howell, of $67,317.


JURY TRIAL: Length, nine days; Deliberation, one hour.

RESULT: The jury returned a defense verdict finding that neither Sam's East Inc. nor Vestar Property Management negligently maintained the subject grate.

FILING DATE: Dec. 9, 2009