Case details

Defendant ran red light while on cell phone, plaintiff claimed





Result type

Not present

back, left, neck, non-dominant shoulder., soft-tissue neck
At around 1:30 a.m. on Dec. 18, 2010, plaintiff Richard Lee, 31, a sales associate at Medtronics, was driving around, looking for a place to eat Korean food that was open late, after having recently picked up two friends from Los Angeles International Airport. As a result, they were headed west on Eighth Street, approaching the intersection with Catalina Street, located in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles. Around the same time, Hye Kim had left her friend’s apartment, which was located on the corner of Seventh Street and Catalina Street, and was driving south on Catalina Street, toward the intersection with Eighth Street, heading back to her home to Irvine. As Lee proceeded into the intersection, the rear, passenger-side panel of her vehicle was struck by Kim’s vehicle. The force of the impact caused both cars to spin out, and Lee’s vehicle subsequently collided with two parked cars before coming to rest. Both vehicles ultimately came to rest facing eastbound on Eighth Street, which was the opposite direction of where Lee’s vehicle was originally headed. Lee claimed that he sustained to his neck, back, and left shoulder. Lee sued Hye Kim and Hye Kim’s mother, Misun Kim, whose insurance policy covered the incident. Lee alleged that Hye Kim was negligent in the operation of her vehicle and that Misun Kim was vicariously liable for her daughter’s actions. Lee claimed that he had a green light as he entered the intersection of Eighth and Catalina Streets and that Hye Kim caused the collision by running a red light. Plaintiff’s counsel produced evidence that Hye Kim was on her cell phone at the time of the collision. Specifically, plaintiff’s counsel noted that Hye Kim’s boyfriend testified that he was on the phone with Hye Kim when she screamed and told him that she had just been involved in a collision. Hye Kim claimed that she came to a complete stop at a red light at the intersection and waited for it to turn green before pulling out to make a right hand turn. However, Hye Kim testified that she did not look left before pulling out into the intersection., Lee claimed he suffered soft-tissue to his neck, back, and left, non-dominant shoulder. However, he was not treated at the scene, and took a taxi home. He then began treating his alleged soft-tissue with chiropractic care. At the time of the collision, Lee was training for a run at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Taekwondo Team that would compete at the London Games. He had previously qualified for the 2008 Olympic Team, but ultimately was not chosen as one of the two men that would represent the United States at the Beijing Games. At age 31, the London Games represented Lee’s last shot at achieving a lifelong dream. However, Lee claimed that his precluded him from training to compete in a March 2011 qualifying tournament for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Taekwondo Team. Although his did improve, he claimed that they never went away entirely and that he still suffers from pain in those areas to this day. However, he does not take any medication for his alleged pain. Lee is currently a taekwondo instructor at Tae Ryong Taekwondo. He claimed that his current physical limitations include tightness, soreness and pain, which make it difficult to teach taekwondo. He alleged that as a result, he often puts a lacrosse ball between his neck and a wall, and then moves up and down to massage the area. Lee did not claim any economic damages for the medical expenses associated with this chiropractic treatment and care, and he waived his claim for special damages, so his total medical bills were never calculated. Thus, plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award $5 million in damages for Lee past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel noted that Lee did not require any emergency care after the collision and contended that Lee completely recovered from his as early as three months post-collision. Specifically, defense counsel cited the final evaluation report by Lee’s chiropractor, which stated that Lee’s complaints had completely resolved and that Lee had returned to pre-collision status. Defense counsel further argued that any injury Lee sustained in relation to the crash had no impact on his ability to qualify for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Taekwondo Team. Counsel contended that Lee was still recovering from an unrelated March 2010 hip surgery at the time of the crash and that Lee made complaints to his chiropractor shortly after the collision that he was still having hip pain, which impacted his ability to successfully train for the qualifying tournament. Thus, defense counsel asked the jury to only award Lee around $5,000 in total damages.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA

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