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Our Verdicts

$1,750,000

18-Wheeler Collision

Settlement

$1,467,000

TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY

Jury Verdict

$1,070,000

AUTO ACCIDENT 

Jury Verdict

Plaintiff claimed injuries from improperly secured inflatable slide

Southern County

Personal Injury/negligence

Negligent Assembly or Installation — Negligent Training

Plaintiff claimed injuries from improperly secured inflatable slide

Verdict

$2,125,000

Case

Lillian Brookman v. Signature
Fundraising, Inc., No. MC026617

Court

Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles

Judge

J. Stephen Czuleger

Date

12/5/2018

Plaintiff Attorney(s)
Eric D. Nielsen (lead), The Nielsen Law Firm, Houston, TX
Tiffany T. Chung, Law Offices of Tiffany Chung, Montebello, CA
Defense Attorney(s)
Mark M. Gnesin, Ropers, Majeski,
Kohn & Bentley, Los Angeles, CA
Facts & Allegations

On Oct. 10, 2014, plaintiff Lillian Brookman, 60, a teacher, was with her class on a blacktop play area outside of Summerwind Elementary School, in Palmdale.

Five inflatables were set up on the grass field in the back of the school earlier that day. Two tall slides broke loose and became airborne.

One inflatable, which was 20 feet in length from bottom to top, flew over a portable building and struck Brookman in the face and upper torso. She sustained injuries to her head, face, chest and a shoulder.

Brookman sued the owner and operator of the inflatables, Signature Fundraising Inc. She alleged that Signature Fundraising was negligent in its installation and operation of the inflatables.

Brookman claimed that workers for Signature Fundraising were negligent for using improperly fabricated stakes to set up the inflatables and for operating the inflatables when it was too windy. She further claimed that Signature Fundraising was negligent for failing to provide its workers with training and instructions on what conditions were too windy and unsafe.

The defendant stipulated to liability two weeks before trial.

Injuries/Damages

brain damage; brain, internal bleeding; depression; facial laceration; fracture, nose; fracture, rib; head; post-traumatic stress disorder; rotator cuff, injury (tear); scar and/or disfigurement, face; seizure disorder; traumatic brain injury; unconsciousness

Brookman sustained a traumatic brain injury and was rendered unconscious for less than 30 minutes. She also sustained a fractured nose, a torn rotator cuff, a fractured rib and a gash on her forehead. She was immediately taken to a hospital, where a CT scan showed internal bleeding in her brain.

Brookman claimed she now suffers from neurocognitive deficits, a seizure disorder, depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. She alleged that as a result, she retired early, at age 60 instead of 65. Brookman claimed the early retirement from her job as a teacher, which was her passion, caused a loss of income, household services, and some retirement benefits that had a present value of between $446,000 and $471,000. Brookman sought recovery of past and future lost wages, and damages for her past and future pain and suffering

Result

The jury found that Signature Fundraising’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing Brookman harm. It determined that Brookman’s damages totaled $2,125,000.

Lillian Brookman

$78,700 past economic damages
$446,300 future economic damages
$300,000 past noneconomic
damages
$1,300,000 future noneconomic
damages
$2,125,000

Demand

$1,900,000 (C.C.P. § 998 [insurance coverage’s limit was $1,940,000])

Offer

$750,000

Insurer(s)

Crum & Forster

Trial Details

Trial Length: 9 days
Trial Deliberations: 6 hours
Jury Composition: 6 male, 6 female

Plaintiff Expert(s)

A. David Axelrad, M.D., psychiatry,
Houston, TX
Michael B. Freeman, Ph.D.,
epidemiology, Portland, OR
Kenneth E. Lehrer, Ph.D., economics,
Houston, TX

Defense Expert(s)

Steven A. Castellon, Ph.D.,
neuropsychology, Calabasas, CA
Howard Tung, M.D., neurosurgery,
San Diego, CA

Post-Trial

Defense counsel moved to tax costs. The matter settled before the hearing on the motion to tax costs.

Editor’s Note: This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff’s counsel. Defense counsel did not respond to the reporter’s phone calls. –Priya Idiculla