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FEATURED ARTICLE

RETIRED LAPD MOTORCYCLE OFFICER AWARDED $15.7 MILLION IN INJURY CASE


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: Chatsworth, California

Case: Barry Bowman v. City of Los Angeles, et al.

Court: Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles, North Valley District, Case No. BC 329390.

Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Plaintiff’s attorneys Robert H. Tourtelot of Tourtelot & Butler, Los Angeles, California and Michael Alder of Alder Law, Beverly Hills, California.

Judge: The Honorable Holly E. Kendig.

Case Synopsis: Plaintiff Mr. Barry, Bowman, 59, was a retired officer with the Los Angeles Police Department, and was currently working as a security officer on a movie set. Tommy Wyatt, Jr., was a dump truck driver working under a contract with the City of Los Angeles.

On October 13, 2004, Mr. Bowman, was riding his motorcycle on his way home. Tommy Wyatt’s dump truck entered the intersection from a road on the right to make a left hand turn. The truck struck Mr. Bowman, and Mr. Bowman sustained major injuries, including:

  • permanent brain damage,
  • permanent loss of vision in one eye,
  • substantial loss of hearing,
  • a fractured hip joint and femur in his right leg,
  • severance of his carotid artery from ear to ear, and
  • two major strokes during the early stages of hospitalization.

As a result of these injuries, Mr. Bowman will require a caretaker 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for the remainder of his life. Mr. Bowman sued the City of Los Angeles and Defendant Wyatt. Bowman claimed that Wyatt was negligent in his operation of the vehicle and the City was liable as his employer. The City of Los Angeles argued that Wyatt was an independent contractor, not its employee, and that therefore the City was not liable for the accident.

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Expert Testimony: First, Mr. Johnson was asked to calculate Mr. Bowman’s loss of future earning capacity. In calculating the earnings loss, Mr. Johnson first looked at Mr. Bowman’s earnings through the date of injury. He then annualized and grew his earnings to current year’s dollars to yield $88,701 per annum. Mr. Johnson also included the federal minimum fringe benefits rate of 9.3% of wages. Since Mr. Bowman had no plans for retirement, Mr. Johnson took his work-life out to age 79. No mitigating income was included as Mr. Bowman would not be reentering the workforce.

Second, Mr. Johnson was asked to calculate Mr. Bowman’s future lifetime medical expenses. Mr. Johnson reviewed the life care planner’s future medical plan. Since Mr. Bowman suffered a brain injury, he will be dependent on 24-hour care for the rest of his life. Mr. Johnson presented two future medical expense scenarios. The first scenario consisted of attendant care on an hourly basis. The second scenario consisted of attendant care based on live-in rates.

Results: After 12 days of trial, the jury awarded Mr. Bowman $15,735,000. The award consisted of:

  • $1,500,000 in past pain and suffering,
  • $9,500,000 in future pain and suffering,
  • $776,000 in past medical expenses and lost earnings and
  • $3,959,000 future medical expenses and lost earnings.

Attorney Comments: According to Plaintiff’s attorney Robert Tourtelot, "Mr. Johnson played a major role in our obtaining the highest personal injury verdict ever in the Chatsworth, California Courthouse. Mr. Johnson did an excellent job helping present our economic damages. Mr. Johnson came prepared with his presentation material which helped the jury follow along. This is especially helpful when there is more than one scenario like we had. In addition, Mr. Johnson was able to remind the jury that the oldest person at plaintiff’s work was 81 years of age. Mr. Johnson put up a range of $3.2 to $4.8 million in past and future economic damages. The defense economist only put up a range of $1.4 to $1.7 million. The jury awarded us $4.7 million for these damages. As you can see, the jury definitely sided with Mr. Johnson’s testimony. We certainly intend to utilize his services in our future cases.”