Case details

Debris from blasting could not travel distance alleged: defense





Result type

Not present

brain, brain injury, cognition, concussion, head, headaches, hearing, loss of, mental, psychological, sensory, speech, traumatic brain injury
On Oct. 26, 2006, at approximately 5:57 p.m., plaintiff Frances Evanoff, a self-employed 60 year old, was working in her yard adjacent to the Audie Murphy Project in Menifee when she was allegedly struck in the head by a piece of flyrock. She claimed the flyrock was from a construction blasting at the site, causing her to sustain a brain injury and emotional distress from the incident. Evanoff sued the blasting contractor, Edick & Watt Inc.; the grading contractor of the project, Sukut Construction Inc.; and the property owners, Audie Murphy Ranch LLC, A. Murphy Ranch LLC, Brookfield Homes Holding Inc. and Woodside Homes of California. Evanoff alleged that the plaintiffs’ actions constituted negligence, negligence per se and strict liability. Prior to trial, Audie Murphy Ranch, A. Murphy Ranch, Brookfield Homes and Woodside Homes were dismissed from the case. Thus, the matter proceeded to trial against Edick & Watt and Sukut Construction only. Evanoff’s counsel presented the testimony of neighbors, who also claimed their property was struck by flyrock from the same blast. Thus, counsel contended that the blast was shot without adequate precautions. Counsel for Edick & Watt and Sukut Construction argued that Evanoff was not struck by any flyrock, and that the subject blast was shot without issue. The defense’s expert geophysicist testified that it was not physically possible for the rock to travel 950 to 1,000 feet from the blast site to Evanoff’s property. Defense counsel moved for a directed verdict as to Evanoff’s causes of action for negligence and negligence per se, and it was granted. Thus, only Evanoff’s sole remaining cause of action, for strict liability, was submitted to the jury., Evanoff went to her family doctor with head, neck and back complaints six days after the alleged incident. She was subsequently diagnosed with a concussion and, years later, was diagnosed with a mild traumatic brain injury. Evanoff stopped working shortly after the incident. She claimed that as a result of her brain injury, she now suffers from a loss of memory, hearing loss, headaches, and anosmia, which is the loss of smell. She also claimed she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and a loss of sleep from the incident. Thus, Evanoff sought recovery of $2.5 million in future life care costs, $3 million in damages for her past pain and suffering, and $7 million in damages for her future pain and suffering. In addition, Evanoff’s husband, Keith, sought recovery of damages for his loss of consortium. Defense counsel argued that Ms. Evanoff did not receive any emergency medical treatment following the alleged incident. Counsel also noted that Ms. Evanoff was observed by Edick & Watt personnel after the alleged incident and found to have no signs of trauma whatsoever (i.e., swelling, bleeding, abrasions or bruising). The defense’s expert neuropsychologist and expert neurologist testified that Ms. Evanoff did not sustain a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury from the alleged incident, and that all of her claimed symptoms were the result of unrelated depression and other physical conditions. Prior to the completion of the case and submission to jury, defense counsel moved for nonsuit as to Mr. Evanoff’s claim of loss of consortium. However, Mr. Evanoff dismissed his complaint with prejudice, shortly thereafter.
Superior Court of Riverside County, Rancho Cucamonga, CA

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