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Verdicts and Settlements

Auto Accident

$1.85 million Settlement for Accident Victim
On March 19, 2010, plaintiff was driving a garbage truck when he entered the intersection of Fourth Street and King Street, in San Francisco, and was struck by a pickup truck operated by the defendant. The impact caused defendant's pickup truck to spin out of control until it came to rest against a set of stairs leading up to a municipal railway passenger platform. A pedestrian, who was a homeless person, was standing on or near the stairs and was struck by defendant's pickup truck. Defendant had minor injuries and declined transport to a hospital and plaintiff claimed injuries to his neck and back. Plaintiff sued the defendant and defendant's employer. The matter of plaintiff's claims against the defendants proceeded to mediation.

Attorney for the plaintiff, Sanford Cipinko, contended that defendant ran a red light and committed multiple violations of the California Vehicle Code, including speeding. Cipinko also contended that at the time of the crash, defendant's blood alcohol level was found to be elevated. Defense counsel contended that plaintiff was traveling well over the speed limit at the time of the crash. Thus, defense counsel asserted that plaintiff was at least partially to blame for the collision.

Plaintiff sustained a cervical disc herniation at the C56 level with impingement of the spinal cord. He was subsequently taken to a hospital for treatment and he ultimately underwent a cervical fusion from C4 to C6. Plaintiff claimed that his neck condition would likely prevent him from ever working as a garbage collector again. Thus, he sought recovery for his medical costs and lost earnings. He also sought recovery of damages for his pain and suffering. In addition, plaintiff sought recovery of punitive damages, claiming that defendant's conduct was willful and wanton. Plaintiff and the defendants agreed to a $1.85 million settlement.

Burn

$10 million Settlement for Burn Victim
Sandy recovered a $10 million settlement for a burn victim on the eve of trial. The client, a maintenance worker in a field, saw a small grass fire and tried to use his jacket to put it out. Unbeknownst to him, a downed power line was the cause of the fire. The live wire burned a hole in his wrist. He suffered second and third degree burns across a significant portion of his body.

Through effective use of powerpoint slides, Sandy was able to present a reenactment of the scene of the accident and show that the utility company was negligent. His graphics also depicted the type of surgery that his client underwent. As a result of this powerful presentation of the evidence, the utility company settled for $10 million. As a condition of settlement the utility company's name remains confidential.


Herniation

$1,631,411 Verdict for Herniated Disc
On October 17, 2006, our client, a student, was driving through the intersection of Sanchez and 16th streets in San Francisco when he was broadsided by a delivery truck that ran a red light. He was taken by ambulance to San Francisco General Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a lower back sprain or strain. An MRI taken five months later showed a disc protrusion at L5-S1. He continued to have conservative medical treatment, but with no improvement. He was later evaluated by a spine surgeon, who recommended epidural injections and possibly disc replacement if the injections were not helpful. The jury awarded damages for future lost income, medical damages, including future surgery, and non-economic damages. The defense offered to settle for $15,000.

Employer Fails to Provide Safe Workplace
A 45-year old financial consultant suffered a herniated disc at L5-S1 when a metal filing cabinet fell on her as she attempted to open the top drawer of the cabinet at work. She contended that her employer failed to re-secure the safety strap designed to hold the cabinet to the wall after moving the cabinet the day before the incident. The employer denied liability and contended that her injuries were unrelated to the accident.

An Alameda jury returned a verdict of $1,145,335 to compensate for wage loss, loss of household services, and non-economic damages. The jury's verdict reflects a finding of wage loss. Sandy interviewed the client's former supervisor who had fantastic things to say about her work performance. The supervisor flew from Washington to testify and together with evidence of superior performance evaluations Sandy proved his client's wage loss.

Carpenter Struck By Falling Rebar Curtain Wall
A carpenter was struck by a rebar curtain wall after it had been cut by ironworkers and allowed to fall from a height of 10 feet. He alleged that the ironworkers were negligent in the manner in which the wall was taken down and for failure to warn. The carpenter had arthroscopic arch decompression surgery in his shoulder and suffered a herniated disk at L5-S1. He claimed wage loss of $825,000 because he was unable to work as a carpenter. Sandy obtained a $1,500,000 settlement for the carpenter.


Facet Injury

Rear-End Accident Causes Cervical Facet Injuries
A 33-year old accountant suffered cervical facet injuries after the defendant rear-ended her vehicle on a city street. Cervical facet injuries are often difficult, if not impossible, to see on modern imaging technology. The procedures used to diagnose and treat the injuries are also difficult to demonstrate because of the nature of the injury. For trial, Sandy worked with his medical expert to prepare a video which depicted the injury and the procedures for diagnosis and treatment. This creative use of visuals aided the jury in understanding the medical testimony. A San Francisco jury returned a verdict of $2,025,000 to compensate the client for medical and non-economic damages.

California State Automobile Association (CSAA) Punished For Failing to Pay Its Insured
A 58 year old passenger of a vehicle struck from behind by an inattentive driver on the freeway contacted Law Offices of Sanford M Cipinko after developing chronic neck pain. He was diagnosed with a cervical facet injury and was being treated with a costly but effective procedure called radiofrequency neurotomy. Mr. Cipinko and associates represented the claimant in obtaining the insurance coverage of the driver that hit him and in submitting a claim to CSAA for his underinsured motorist benefits. CSAA refused to pay the insurance benefits voluntarily and hired a medical doctor who opined that the neck pain was due to muscle strain of unknown origin and that the treatment he was receiving was not reasonable. At a binding arbitration, our client was awarded his full policy benefits of $250,000. CSAA paid an additional $25,000 above and beyond his insurance coverage, to reimburse him for the cost of litigation.


Traumatic Brain Injury

Bar Patron Sustained Head Injury When Struck By Slam Dancer
A patron at a bar alleged he sustained a mild traumatic brain injury, including headaches and loss of concentration, when he was struck by another customer who was slam dancing. The injured patron was listening to music at the bar and did not know that the bar condoned slam dancing. In his lawsuit against the bar, he claimed that the bar had inadequate security and failure to warn of slam dancing. The bar contended that it did not tolerate slam dancing. Sandy researched the bar's claim that it did not tolerate slam dancing and found evidence in the police records of complaints of slam dancing at the bar. He used this evidence to impeach the bar. The bar also claimed that its patron had pre-existing injuries, not a mild brain injury. Sandy was able to prove that the bar's expert lied under oath about statements the patron had made to him during the defense's medical examination.

The Monterey jury found for the patron and awarded $386,838 in economic damages and $40,000 in non-economic damages. After a reduction for contributory negligence, the net recovery was $378,154.

Off-Leash Dogs Injure Pedestrian
Mr. Cipinko and associates negotiated a $650,000 settlement for a client who suffered a mild-traumatic brain injury and musculoskeletal injuries when knocked over by two off-leash dogs.

A 52-year old woman was walking through Shoreline Park in Tiburon one morning when she was seriously injured by two off-leash dogs. The dogs' owners decided to violate Tiburon leash law and allow their dogs to play off-leash in Shoreline Park. While the dogs were chasing each other through the park, our client was almost tripped by one who darted across her path. She stumbled. Close on the heels of the first dog was the second, who struck our client and knocked her to the ground. Her head struck the concrete path. Emergency services were called and she was transported to the hospital. She received ongoing medical care for her injuries and began to struggle with tasks at her work as a result of her brain injury.

Roll-Over Car Accident Causes Traumatic Brain Injury
A 49 year-old seatbelted driver was t-boned by a driver who ran a red light at 35-40 miles per hour. Her SUV rolled twice. Responders found her hanging by her seatbelt. She was taken by ambulance in full spinal immobilization to the hospital. Subsequent treatment and diagnosis revealed injuries consisting of myofascial pain syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a mild traumatic brain injury. After the accident she was unable to resume work as a loans consultant.

The defendant driver had been talking on her cell phone with a client and admitted to being distracted by her speedometer when she ran the red light. Her employer, also a defendant, contended that our client was lying about her injuries.

Anticipating the defense of malingering, Mr. Cipinko and associates found an expert in brain imaging to evaluate our client's injuries. Using cutting-edge technology, the scans showed visible images of the traumatic brain injury that our client suffered.

The individual driver settled for $100,000. The employer settled for a confidential sum.


Wrongful Death

Pedestrian Struck and Killed in Crosswalk
A 57-year old systems analyst was struck and killed in the crosswalk across from her North Beach condominium by a telecommunications work van. Her husband and their son arrived home shortly after the accident. Decedent was survived by her husband and three adult children, the youngest of whom lived at home. Decedent was the primary breadwinner as her husband has lost vision in one eye following an industrial accident. Sandy negotiated $5,300,000 settlement for the decedent's family.


Unsafe Premises

Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BARTD) Pays for Unsafe Sidewalk
A female pedestrian tripped on a dangerous sidewalk at an East Bay BARTD station sidewalk during her commute home one day. She fell on her face and knees, cracking two crowns and bruising both knee bones. She contacted Law Offices of Sanford M. Cipinko after BARTD rejected her claim and refused to settle her case. BARTD never made a single settlement offer and blamed our client for wearing her tinted prescription glasses and not paying attention to wear she was walking. BARTD even asked the Court to dismiss our client's lawsuit claiming that it did not own or control the sidewalk where she fell. Mr. Cipinko and associates took our client's case to trial where a jury held BARTD 85% responsible for her injuries. As a result of the trial, BARTD was forced to pay over $28,000.


Fracture

State Farm Insurance Made to Pay Its Own Insured Twice
State Farm insured contacted the Law Offices of Sanford M. Cipinko after sustaining a complex right arm fracture in a motor vehicle accident. His arm healed with bony scar tissue that restored his arm function. Our client was then involved in a second accident that re-fractured this "fibrous union." Three attempts to surgically unite the fracture failed. After exhausting the insurance coverage of the negligent motorists, Law Offices of Sanford M. Cipinko submitted underinsured motorist claims to State Farm for both motor vehicle accidents. State Farm hired a doctor who took the position - contrary to the treating surgeon - that our client's arm never healed after the first accident. State Farm paid the $1,000,000 insurance benefits for the first accident but refused to pay a dime for the second. Law Offices of Sanford M. Cipinko commissioned a medical illustrator to show how our client's arm healed after the first accident and was then reinjured. At a binding contractual arbitration, our client was awarded our client his full policy benefits, requiring State Farm to pay a second $1,000,000.


Excessive Force

San Francisco Pays Settlement to Avoid Trial Over Use of Taser
A medical student contacted Law Offices of Sanford M. Cipinko regarding claims of excessive force after being tasered multiple times on Broadway Avenue after the close of neighborhood nightclubs. The plaintiff alleged that the encounter with the San Francisco Sheriff and Police Departments occurred when he asked for the badge number of an officer who became enraged and tackled him from behind thereby escalating a verbal confrontation to a physical one. The City of San Francisco claimed that the plaintiff was drunk, belligerent and not following the officers' orders. Law Offices of Sanford M. Cipinko revealed inconsistencies in the officers' stories through depositions of witnesses, the officers and other physical evidence. The City of San Francisco paid plaintiff $385,000 to avoid a jury trial.


Other Traumatic Injuries

$4,968,000 Verdict for Amputee
Our client suffered a traumatic amputation of one leg and surgical amputation of the other leg at the knee following an injury caused by a defective tail on a pickup truck. Through effective preparation of expert evidence, Sandy was able to prove that the tail on the pickup was defective and injured his client. The jury returned a verdict of $4,968,000, after reductions and an appeal, the defendant paid $3,000,000.

Delivery Company Pays $750,000 for Chronic Neck Pain
A 41 year old mother of two young children was the front seated passenger of an SUV struck from behind by a delivery truck on a freeway off-ramp. The plaintiff was a co-owner of an auto repair business and claimed that neck pain following the accident interfered with her business's income. Law Offices of Sanford M. Cipinko hired an economist who worked with their client to prove the full extent of her economic losses. On the eve of trial, the delivery company's insurance company agreed to settle for the full insurance policy limits of $750,000.


Business Litigation

Breach of Contract and Fraud on Marina Bar Owner
Sandy represented a bar owner in Marina who obtained a jury verdict of $415,000. The bar owner leased space in the Marina to develop into a bar. The bar owner invested money to improve the property into the bar. He then wanted to transfer his lease to an investor. The landlord refused to allow the transfer and tried to cut a separate deal with the investor. The landlord also evicted the bar owner for technical violations of the lease. Sandy argued that the landlord's conduct was fraudulent, in bad faith and a breach of contract. A unanimous jury found for the bar owner and awarded compensatory and punitive damages.

$2 million Jury Verdict for Real Estate Fraud
A real estate investor was found liable for intentionally interfering with the prospective economic advantage of competing bidders for a piece of property in Larkspur. The property was in a highly desirable area of downtown Larkspur and was large enough to be developed into three separate lots for single-family homes. Twelve offers were submitted to purchase the property. The defendant bribed the listing agent with future commissions in exchange for rigging the bidding process to allow the defendant to unfairly obtain the Larkspur property.

The plaintiffs were actually the highest bidders. The defendant was the eighth highest bidder. Surprisingly, the seller invited only the defendant to submit a counter offer, which was accepted. That offer was $129,000 less than Plaintiffs' highest offer.

Plaintiffs' damages were the lost profits from the increase in value of the development of the property. Sandy convinced a jury to award $2 million in damages against the real estate investor who interfered with his clients' opportunity to buy the property. The investor had stoutly refused to offer "one red cent" in settlement, but after the jury's verdict, he quickly deeded over a $3.5 million property to avoid a punitive damages trial.