Case details

Parties disputed the extent of plaintiff’s alleged injuries/care





Result type

Not present

brain, brain injury, closed head injury, cognition, depression, head, headaches, insomnia, mental, psychological, traumatic brain injury
On Feb. 1, 2012, plaintiff Samuel Meguerditchian, 89, a retired jeweler, was walking through the parking garage of his apartment building in Glendale when he was struck by a reversing sport utility vehicle operated by his neighbor, Manuel Iskandaryan, a taxi driver. Iskandaryan was traveling at less than 10 mph when he struck Meguerditchian in the back, causing Meguerditchian to be knocked to the ground and allegedly sustain head . Meguerditchian sued Iskandaryan and All Yellow Taxi Inc. Meguerditchian alleged that Iskandaryan was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that All Yellow Taxi was vicariously liable for Iskandaryan’s actions. All Yellow Taxi was ultimately dismissed from the case before trial after it was discovered that Iskandaryan was an independent contractor for the company. Iskandaryan admitted liability., Meguerditchian suffered multiple abrasions and he claimed he suffered a concussion. He also claimed that he sustained a closed head injury, resulting in a traumatic brain injury. Meguerditchian was subsequently transported by ambulance to LAC+USC Medical Center, in Los Angeles, where he was treated and released the next morning. Meguerditchian claimed he suffers constant residual issues as a result of the brain injury, including headaches, dizziness, memory loss, insomnia, stress, depression, and anxiety. He alleged that his residual condition prevents him from reading, writing and caring for himself. He also alleged that almost two years after the incident, he fell and broke his hip and that as a result, he is permanently confined him to a wheelchair. Meguerditchian contended that even though he had been previously receiving over 85 hours a month of care from family members, who were being paid by the state of California through the state’s In-home Supportive Services Program, he was active, engaged in the community, and could read, write, and caring for himself. However, he contended that after the incident, he can no longer read, write, or be active. He claimed that now at the age of 92, he needs 24-hour attendant care because of his poor judgment due to his brain injury. Meguerditchian also claimed he would need attendant care for the next four years of his life, at a cost of $65,000 per year. However, he waived his claim for past economic damages and sought recovery of between $450,000 and $550,000 in total damages. Meguerditchian’s wife, Mariam Meguerditchian, initially sought recovery of damages for her loss of consortium. However, she dismissed her claim before trial. The defense’s experts admitted that Mr. Meguerditchian suffered from a traumatic brain injury with lasting residuals that required 24/7 attendant care for Mr. Meguerditchian’s safety. However, defense counsel downplayed the effect these alleged residual had on Mr. Meguerditchian’s life. Counsel also initially argued that Mr. Meguerditchian appeared to present similar physical/mental problems before the accident and that although Mr. Meguerditchian had a traumatic brain injury (a concussion), the subject incident caused only a temporary exacerbation of Mr. Meguerditchian’s pre-existing problems. Defense counsel subsequently presented Mr. Meguerditchian’s pre-accident medical records, including dozens of entries in the records from Mr. Meguerditchian’s primary care physician and forms provided to the state in order to get Mr. Meguerditchian governmental benefits. Counsel contended that these records established that Mr. Meguerditchian had previously suffered a stroke and encephalopathy (a disorder or disease of the brain). Counsel also contended that the records established that even before the subject motor vehicle accident, Mr. Meguerditchian could not walk, bathe himself, or use his arms or legs; suffered headaches, insomnia, and severe depression; and needed 24-hour care starting in 2002. Defense counsel argued that as a result, any attendant care needed by Mr. Meguerditchian after the accident could be provided by Mr. Meguerditchian’s family members at no cost, as these family members were already providing Mr. Meguerditchian similar care for similar problems pre-accident, albeit on a limited basis. In response, plaintiff’s counsel argued that Mr. Meguerditchian suffered no such similar physical/mental problems, despite medical records showing otherwise. Counsel also argued that Mr. Meguerditchian’s wife could not provide for her husband’s care because she was 85 and had debilitating multiple sclerosis. Defense counsel then cross-examined the plaintiff’s experts about Mr. Meguerditchian’s pre-accident records, which showed similar problems, and the plaintiff’s experts admitted that the reason for the pre-existing documented problems, which resulted in pre-accident attendant care for Mr. Meguerditchian, was because Mr. Meguerditchian’s pre-accident doctors were committing “medical fraud” to get Mr. Meguerditchian free care and that the records that resulted in such care should not be trusted. Thus, defense counsel argued that, based on the entries in the medical reports, which did not comport with Mr. Meguerditchian’s actual pre-accident condition, Mr. Meguerditchian and his pre-accident primary care physician were committing medical fraud to get Mr. Meguerditchian governmental benefits that he did not need and was not entitled to. Specifically, defense counsel introduced evidence at trial (over plaintiff’s counsel’s objection), that for years before the incident, Mr. Meguerditchian’s family members were being paid by the state of California, through IHSS, to provide attendant care to Mr. Meguerditchian. As a result, defense counsel argued that Mr. Meguerditchian suffered, at most, a temporary exacerbation of his long-standing depression and anxiety from the subject minor incident and that within weeks of the incident, Mr. Meguerditchian had returned back to his baseline. Counsel further argued that the changes in Mr. Meguerditchian are a result of the normal aging process and due to Mr. Meguerditchian’s broken hip and hip replacement surgery more than two years after the incident. In addition, defense counsel introduced evidence that Mr. Meguerditchian’s primary care physician had not seen any changes in Mr. Meguerditchian’s cognitive abilities for at least one year after the incident. Based on this, defense counsel asked the jury to award Mr. Mr. Meguerditchian only $25,000 in total damages.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA

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