TRANSPORTATION: L.A. County Jury Awards Jaywalker $11 Million


Plaintiff, Cesar Sosa (“Plaintiff”), was awarded a net $11 million verdict from a Los Angeles Superior Court jury for injuries sustained after being struck by a vehicle while he was jaywalking near Los Angeles International Airport in the middle of the night. Both the driver, Michael Shabun (“Shabun”), and his employer, DJI Technologies, Inc. (“DJI”), were found liable even though Shabun was in the process of returning home.

Clad in all dark clothing, Plaintiff was crossing mid-block near LAX when he was struck by a vehicle driven by Shabun. At the time, Shabun was returning from a business trip on behalf of his employer, DJI. Plaintiff sustained multiple bone fractures, a left leg amputation, and suffered a traumatic brain injury attributed to the incident.

On March 25, 2016, Plaintiff filed an action seeking recovery from both Shabun and DJI for his injuries. (Sosa Jr. v. DJI Technology Inc. et al.; L.A. County Superior Ct. case no. BC614908.) DJI attempted to defeat liability by arguing that Shabun was no longer “on the clock” for his business trip at the time the incident occurred, and pointed to the fact that Shabun made a stop at a gas station to meet a friend prior to the incident. However, this argument was rejected by presiding judge, Hon. Michael L. Stern.

In the end, the jury awarded a gross award of $31 million; consisting of $9 million in future medical expenses, $456,000 in past medical expenses, $1.7 in future lost wages, with a whopping $20 million in non-economic damages. The gross award was reduced, however, because the jury found that Plaintiff was sixty-five percent (65%) at fault for his own injuries; largely due to the fact that he was illegally crossing the street at the time he was struck. It was reported that counsel for Plainitff, Gary A. Dordick, requested that the jury award $60 million in his closing argument.

Shabun was represented by James T. Catlow of Doherty & Catlow, and DJT was represented by Rhett P. Warriner of Inglis, Gower & Warriner LLP.

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