Case details

Defendant denied hitting plaintiff while leaving scene





Result type

Not present

back, bulging disc, lumbar, neck
On Jan. 12, 2009, plaintiff Nassir Hanassab, a retired carpet salesman in his 60s, was a seat-belted passenger in the front seat of a vehicle driven by his wife, plaintiff Mahrou Hanassab, a woman in her 70s. As Mrs. Hanassab tried to make a right turn onto Coldwater Canyon Avenue, in Los Angeles, she collided with the passenger side of a vehicle operated by Serene Zloof. The drivers then pulled over to the side of the road in order to exchange information. However, a confrontation allegedly arose and Zloof then left the scene, during which Mr. Hanassab fell. Mrs. Hanassab claimed she suffered soft-tissue to her back and neck as a result of the accident, while Mr. Hanassab claimed orthopedic to his back from both the initial accident and his subsequent fall. Mr. and Mrs. Hanassab sued Serene Zloof and the owner of Ms. Zloof’s vehicle, Ms. Zloof’s father, Moshe Zloof. The Hanassabs alleged that Ms. Zloof was negligent in the operation of her vehicle and that Mr. Zloof was vicariously liable for his daughter’s actions. Mr. Zloof was later dismissed from the case, and Ms. Zloof settled with Mrs. Hanassab prior to trial. Thus, the matter proceeded to trial on Mr. Hanassab’s claim of falling after attempting to exchange information with Ms. Zloof (and the trial did not address the original traffic collision). Mr. Hanassab claimed that an argument erupted when Ms. Zloof failed to show him her driver’s license and that Ms. Zloof then got back in her vehicle and attempted to flee the scene. He alleged that as a result, he attempted to stop her from leaving, but that Ms. Zloof intentionally ran him over as she drove away. Thus, he contended that Ms. Zloof was a hit-and-run driver who caused to his back. Ms. Zloof claimed that after the initial accident, she and Ms. Hanassab both pulled over to exchange information. However, she claimed that her driver’s license was previously stolen, so only had a temporary, paper driver’s license that was issued to her, along with her current passport. Ms. Zloof alleged that after pulling over, she got out of her car while Mr. Hanassab walked back to talk to her and that she presented Mr. Hanassab with her temporary license, current passport for identification, and her proof of insurance. Ms. Zloof claimed that upon seeing the paper license, Mr. Hanassab got aggressive, accusing her of being unlicensed and refusing to exchange information. She claimed that Mr. Hanassab then tried to keep her passport and driver’s license by holding it above his head, and refused to present his wife’s driver’s license or proof of insurance. Ms. Zloof claimed that she was ultimately able to retrieve her documents by jumping and that she then went back to her car. She alleged that Mr. Hanassab followed her and reached into her car, bruising her arms. Ms. Zloof claimed that, fearing for her safety, she left the scene of the accident, drove to safety, and called the police. However, she claimed she did not knock Mr. Hanassab down and that he fell after she left. Defense counsel contended that Ms. Zloof drove around the corner, where she called 911, while at the same time, a witness also called 911. Counsel noted that Coldwater Canyon Avenue is a dividing line with the Los Angeles Police Department. As a result, Ms. Zloof was in touch with the Los Angeles Police Department, while the witness was in touch with dispatchers from the Van Nuys division, resulting in two different reports of the accident. Counsel also noted that the Van Nuys Police Department took Ms. Zloof back to the scene, where she reported the incident with Mr. Hanassab as an assault., Mr. Hanassab claimed he his lower back was injured when he was knocked down. He was subsequently taken by ambulance to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in Los Angeles, where his wife was also treated. Mr. Hanassab subsequently received emergency treatment at the hospital and then presented to his treating orthopedic surgeon for an evaluation and treatment of soft-tissue , which Mr. Hanassab claimed included bulging lumbar discs. Mr. Hanassab claimed he requires surgery on his spine, but he had not undergone it as of the time of trial. However, the plaintiff’s retained medical experts testified that Mr. Hanassab does require surgery. Thus, Mr. Hanassab sought recovery of $1 million in total damages. Defense counsel did not dispute that Mr. Hanassab had fallen at the scene, nor that he was injured, but argued that Mr. Hanassab had only sustained minor soft-tissue . Thus, counsel argued that Mr. Hanassab did not sustain any disc bulges that required surgery. Defense counsel called Mr. Hanassab’s treating orthopedic and internal medicine physicians, who each testified that they saw Mr. Hanassab close to the date of the accident and noted degenerative issues, as they had expected Mr. Hanassab to have at his age. The physicians also testified that at the time of their examination of Mr. Hanassab, he was not a surgical candidate. In addition, the defense’s spinal expert opined that Mr. Hanassab did not sustain any disc bulges and that Mr. Hanassab’s back were consistent with his age.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Van Nuys, CA

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