Case details

Plaintiff claimed dental injuries from rear-end collision





Result type

Not present

ace, chin, dental, face, facial laceration, fractured teeth, jaw, mouth, nose, tooth loss
On July 28, 2011, plaintiff Edgar Okafuji, a retired man in his 60s, was driving on Eight Mile Road, in Stockton, intending to make a left turn at an intersection. As his vehicle was stopped, it was rear-ended by a vehicle operated by Jennifer Gadola. Okafuji claimed to his mouth and face. Okafuji sued Gadola, alleging that Gadola was negligent in the operation of her vehicle. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that Gadola, who was in her early 20s, was on her way to work at Starbucks and was tinkering with her cell phone and/or changing music. Thus, counsel argued that Gadola was inattentive and did not see Okafuji’s stopped vehicle, even though Okafuji was stopped about 150 feet away. Defense counsel argued that Okafuji was negligent. Counsel contended that Gadola never saw Okafuji’s vehicle until the collision occurred. Counsel also contended that there was some discrepancy in Okafuji’s testimony about whether he was traveling straight or had made a right hand turn from the closest intersection prior to the collision. Thus, defense counsel proffered that Okafuji must have done something wrong., Okafuji lost his two front teeth and lacerated his chin when his head hit the dashboard. After the accident, he drove himself to a dentist. He claimed that his included a buckle bone fracture of the jaw, which caused him to lose a piece of the upper jaw bone. Okafuji subsequently required 1.5 years of dental treatment, which included three dental implants to the left side of the upper jaw in order to provide stability for a denture to serve as replacement teeth. Okafuji alleged that the dental implants failed, leaving him with a partial upper denture that does not work. He claimed that though he had dental issues prior to the collision, he is not in the same condition as he was before. Okafuji claimed that he worked on farms and used to enjoyed fresh fruit, but that he can no longer do so. He also claimed that he cannot even bite into an apple. The plaintiff’s treating dentist testified that Okafuji had periodontal disease that was stabilized prior to the accident. He also testified that Okafuji had just received his dentures, which would have lasted five to 10 years, but that the upper denture was no longer effective due to the lack of jaw stabilization as the dental implants failed. Okafuji’s wife, Betty Okafuji, sought recovery for his loss of consortium. Defense counsel contended that Mr. Okafuji had periodontal disease and other dental issues prior to the accident and that Mr. Okafuji would ultimately lose his teeth anyway. The defense’s dental expert testified that, based on Mr. Okafuji’s dental records from his treating dentist, he could not tell that Mr. Okafuji was injured in an accident. The expert also opined that due to the prior dental issues, Mr. Okafuji would suffer regardless of whether he was injured in the accident.
Superior Court of San Joaquin County, San Joaquin, CA

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