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FEATURED ARTICLE

BRITISH WOMAN AWARDED $18 MILLION IN
CROSSWALK ACCIDENT


Robert W. Johnson & Associates was retained to provide economic testimony in quantifying the present cash value of lost earning capacity and future medical expenses.

Location: Los Angeles, California

Case: Alice Mary Mowatt v. City of Los Angeles

Court: State of California Department of Transportation, et al., Los Angeles County Superior Court, Case No. BC-300552

Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Ronald H. Rouda and John M. Feder of the Law Offices of Rouda, Feder, Tietjen & Zanobini, San Francisco, California

Judge: The Honorable John P. Shook

Case Synopsis: On September 23, 2002, Alice Mowatt, a 19-year-old visiting British college student was heading toward a youth hostel after sightseeing in Hollywood on her last day of vacation. It was nighttime, and as she attempted to cross busy Cahuenga Boulevard at the crosswalk, she was struck by a BMW sport utility vehicle.

Ms. Mowatt nearly died after suffering multiple trauma and permanent brain damage. According to her attorneys, doctors were forced to induce a coma to control the swelling of her brain. After two weeks, Ms. Mowatt regained consciousness. As a result of the accident, she was left with

  • memory loss,
  • double vision,
  • loss of her sense of taste and smell
  • and cognitive deficits.

Expert Testimony: In this case, Mr. Johnson was retained to testify regarding loss of earning capacity and future medical expenses. Since Ms. Mowatt lived and planned to work in England, Mr. Johnson had to research economic indicators from the United Kingdom. These government statistics consisted of fringe benefits, employment and earnings, interest and inflation rates and life expectancies.

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At the time of her accident, Ms. Mowatt was enrolled in a tourism studies program at Bournemouth University. She had anticipated completion of her Bachelor of Arts degree in June 2005. With this information, Mr. Johnson was able to obtain wage data for supervisor and junior manager positions in the tourism sector from Bournemouth University. This amounted to an average of $38,273 per annum over her work-life plus 22.5% fringe of her wages.

The total present value of lost wages and fringe benefits was $2.2 million. Next, Mr. Johnson worked with the United Kingdom based life care planner to calculate Ms. Mowatt’s future medical care. The life care planner testified that the majority of her future medical expenses would come from Ms. Mowatt’s need for 24-hour care for the rest of her life. The total present cash value of her future medical expenses was $8.2 million.

Result: On March 9, 2006, the jury found that the City of Los Angeles was responsible for the accident and had known of the dangerous condition.  The jury returned an $18 million verdict, consisting of $1.6 million in past earnings and medical expenses, $10.4 million in future earnings and medical expenses, and $6.0 million for past and future pain and suffering damages. The jury attributed the fault as follows: City of Los Angeles 20%, the State of California 48%, the defendant driver Anatoliy Shevtchenko 30% and plaintiff Alice Mowatt 2%. However, after prior settlements with the State and the defendant driver, the net award was lowered to $11.8 million.

Attorney’s Comments: Plaintiff’s attorney Ronald Rouda stated “Mr. Johnson was a crucial part of our testimony. He was really able to connect with our jurors and help them understand the economic phase of the case. So effective was Mr. Johnson’s direct testimony that before Mr. Johnson could start his critique of the Defense economist, Defense counsel jumped up and said ‘I will stipulate to Mr. Johnson’s opinion.’ It was extraordinary to see the jury award every cent for Ms. Mowatt’s future economic damages that Mr. Johnson put up. It is not very common that you see that.”