Cooper v. California Highway Patrol – Settlement for $7,200,000
Plaintiff was a front-seat passenger in a t-bone collision with a CHP vehicle. Surveillance footage showed the CHP driver ran a red light and did not initiate its emergency lights until after the collision and Defendant admitted liability. The Plaintiff in this matter was represented by Robert M. Nelsen, Robert A. Buccola and Ryan L. Dostart of Dryer Babich Buccola Wood Campora, LLP.
Plaintiff sustained a non-displaced fracture at the C2 vertebra as well as a right-leg fracture as a result of the collision. She was 7-months pregnant at the time, although, fortunately, her unborn baby was unharmed in the collision and was ultimately delivered without complications. While Plaintiff was able to avoid any surgeries, she did have to undergo several pain management procedures.
Plaintiff’s closed-head injury claim was hotly disputed. While neither side disputed the fact that she lost consciousness at the scene of the collision, she presented to the emergency room with an uncompromised Glasgow Coma Score of 15 and had no positive diagnostic findings of brain trauma either in the emergency room or by way of subsequent MRIs. Subsequently, Plaintiff’s treating neuropsychologist diagnosed Plaintiff with a mild traumatic brain injury following a litany of cognitive testing, whereas Defendant’s neurologist and neuropsychologist disputed that she suffered anything beyond a transient concussion. The defense experts emphasized the fact that she was legally blind – a congenital condition that left Plaintiff permanently disabled her entire adult life – and alleged that she at least subconsciously exaggerated her cognitive symptoms which were entirely absent from her medical records for approximately 10 months post-accident. Defendant ultimately argued that any cognitive symptoms were at best psychosocial in nature.
Plaintiff’s past medical specials totaled $101,302. Her doctors indicated that she would require ongoing pain management treatment and may eventually require surgical intervention on her spine if the pain became intolerable.
Further, while Plaintiff had spent nearly two decades unemployed due to her disability, she had found some minimum wage work several months before the collision and was attending community college in the hopes of ultimately pursuing a career assisting with childcare.
The case ultimately resolved a week before trial after nearly three years of litigation.