Note to Reader: These verdicts and settlements are intended to be representative of cases handled by the Law Offices of Howard A. Kapp or Mr. Kapp earlier in his legal career. These listings are not complete and are not a guarantee or prediction of the outcome of any other claims. Each claim is different.
$1,075,000 (including $725,000 (compensatory) and $350,000 (punitive)): Boothby vs Parker, et al., Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. SC084355 (filed in Santa Monica; tried in Malibu). Plaintiff, who was physically disabled, claimed that he had an oral partnership agreement for land development with friend (Parker, then 64 years old, a 25 year veteran character actor on TV soap, Days of Our Lives). After locating and jointly purchasing a choice property for development in Lancaster, CA (which was placed in the name of the partner) and successfully negotiating with a developer, he and his alleged partner sought help of attorney at Wasserman, Comden, et al., for drafting both operating agreement for their LLC and land development contract. The attorney later denied being hired for the former and negotiated the land development contract only for plaintiff's partner (Parker) leaving plaintiff with no paperwork supporting his claim. Parker claimed dementia and defended on grounds of lack of capacity and sued plaintiff for statutory "elder financial abuse". Attorney defended on the grounds that plaintiff had orally consented to the arrangement and that his rights were not impaired. Jury found unanimously in favor of plaintiff on all counts, including separate breach of fiduciary duty claims against partner and attorney, and in favor of plaintiff on the elder abuse cross-complaint. $350,000 punitive damages against Parker; none awarded against lawyers. Case is presently on appeal and cross-appeal. Prior offers totaled $75,000.
$440,000 (reduced to $310,000 per MICRA; plus 998 costs): Quintanilla vs Clinica Medica General, Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC274884 (Judge (now Justice) Madeline Flier). Plaintiff, a 31 year old cashier, was seen at clinic by a general surgeon, who she believed was an OB/GYN, for abnormal menstrual bleeding. On last pre-op visit (for D&C), plaintiff had a "pimple" on her labia (possible inflamed Bartholin's cyst). Defendant surgeon, allegedly without plaintiff's knowledge, included excision of the "vulvar lesion (or mass)" in the surgical plan and then referred plaintiff, again allegedly without plaintiff's knowledge to his employee, a general surgeon, who did the procedures. As a result of the labial surgery, plaintiff has a visible deformity and developed a neuroma which was painful on intercourse. The defense claimed consent, no negligence, no causation and that this was very treatable. No economic loss claimed. Best offers were "waiver of costs" and "10 cents on dollar" after judgment. 11 days of testimony. Verdict on major issues was 11-1; opposed by 3 firms. Affirmed in published decision at Quintanilla vs Dunkelman (2005) 133 Cal.App.4th 95, 34 Cal.Rptr.2d 557 and defendants paid 100% of the judgment, plus costs and legal interest.
$638,400: Fogle v. Patel, San Joaquin Superior Court (Stockton) 207727. Defendant family practitioner treated distal radial fracture involving articular surface, admitting that he was unqualified to do so but claiming that he did so at insistence of plaintiff. Defendant also claimed that ultimate result was unavoidable. Plaintiff suffered permanent injury to wrist. Offer, 1 week prior to trial: $29,999.99; Demand (CCP 998, 3½ years prior to trial, $150,000. Award reduced, per MICRA to $336,400. Court then added over $100,000 in pre-judgment interest and costs for final recovery of over $450,000. Unanimous verdict. Second largest medical malpractice verdict in San Joaquin County in 1993. (4/93)
$583,000: Martinez v. Humphrey, Santa Clara Superior Court (San Jose) Case No. 1-88-CV-647084. Defendant oral surgeon performed arthroscopic TMJ on plaintiff RN and entered ear, causing perilymphatic fistula (into inner ear). Injuries include permanent deafness in one ear and chronic vertigo. Pursued solely on res ipsa theory as there was no credible evidence as to how such an injury could and did occur. 11-1 verdict reduced to $433,000 per MICRA. No formal demand; offer was $29,999.99 (first made 1 week prior to trial). Judgment plus interest was eventually paid after (unreported) unanimous affirmation by Court of Appeal and Supreme Court denied hearing. (Issue on appeal was supposed lack of qualification of plaintiff's expert, the former Chief of ENT at Stanford Medical School.) (4/92)
$225,000: Boutelle vs. Downey Plaza Apts., LASC Case No. SEC 32782. (Chronic headache claim.) Statutory demand/offer: $35,000/$15.000. (Third largest verdict in Norwalk in 1982). Unanimous verdict.
Interesting Settlements (Representative Listing Only) Party Identification Removed for Privacy Reasons These are Not Necessarily Our Largest Settlements, But Cases We Consider “Interesting”
$2,300,000 (approximate present value of structure): Los Angeles Superior Court (Central): 17 year old high school student (C average) was admitted to Los Angeles County / USC Medical Center for surgery on ACA (brain) aneurysm. Hospital delayed surgery due to unavailability of their designated neurovascular surgeon (plaintiff's claim) or due to non-emergent nature of condition (defense position). Aneurysm re-ruptured after 2½ days in hospital causing catastrophic damage. Plaintiff survived with frontal lobe damage. Defense contended that delay was well within standard of care (non-emergent), that plaintiff was a poor and maladjusted student with low earning potential, that plaintiff may have sustained some undetected cognitive impairment prior to rupture and that virtually all economic damages were collateralized. Settled 10/31/05.
$1,199,358: San Bernardino Superior Court: 17 day, 980 gram severely premature infant was provided excess potassium in hyperalimentation solution due to admitted pharmacy error causing seizures and arguable cardiac arrest. Claimed subsequent moderate brain damage caused by event; defense asserted that brain damage was insignificant and/or related solely to extreme prematurity. Total lifetime payment in excess of $11,000,000. Settled August, 1990.
$1,000,000: Still vs Connecticut General Mortgage, etc., Los Angeles Superior Court (Central) Case No. C388970V "One of the largest settlements for a Slip and Fall for the type of injury--disc--sustained in Los Angeles County's history." "Confidential Reports for Attorneys", Vol. XXII, No. 6. Fall on parking lot drainage grate with lumbar fusion and possibility of cervical fusion. Immediate prior offer/demand: $6000/$300,000.
$700,000: Orange County Superior Court (Norwalk): Suit against general dentist and a community pharmacy (as manufacturer) of paraformaldhyde-containing root canal filler (“N2 paste”) used in connection with "Sargenti Method" of root canal which leaked into plaintiff's cheek area causing permanent pain. Evidence demonstrated that this was a disapproved, get-rich-quick scheme by certain dentists and this pharmacy. Punitive damages were allowed against the pharmacy, but not the dentist. No uncollateralized economic damages. Dentist settled for $400,000; pharmacy settled within days for another $300,000. All settlements paid by insurers. (Settled 12/98 three weeks prior to trial; handled in association with Sherre C. Sturm, Esq., Novato, California)
$515,000 (approximate): Doe vs County of Los Angeles: Los Angeles Superior Court (Central): Plaintiff 61 year old gardener business owner and church elder tripped and fell due to protruding box in aisle at nonsettling small store, breaking left hip. Defendant store owners deny that accident occurred at their store and claim that the accident and wage loss claims are frauds. Transferred to LAC+USC Medical Center for hip replacement. During hip replacement surgery, plaintiff suffered cerebral hypoxia with gradually improving mental changes due to alleged malpractice by resident anesthesiologist with months of recovery there and at Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center. Later suffered accidental fracture of opposite hip and misread X-rays of same. Settlement with COLA on verge of trial including $375,000 cash, waiver of statutory liens of over $200,000 and other considerations. Partially settled 8/97.
$500,000: Kaiser Arbitration: 34 year old low-wage earning truck driver, father and husband died of cardiac disease after marginally failing screening treadmill test. After Kaiser internist ordered a follow up thallium treadmill test "within 1 week", the test was set for 11 days later. Patient died on morning of test. Kaiser claimed that the standard of practice allowed for the test to be performed within 2 weeks and that the decedent was responsible for his own death for failing to follow discharge instructions. Kaiser's economist opined that the total economic loss was $85,967.
$499,000 (structured); $202,724 (present value): Los Angeles Superior Court (Central) (1988): Psychological malpractice case arising from world-famous therapist's engaging in sexual misconduct with, and providing drugs, to client in course of "treatment." Was advised by leading expert that this is one of largest such recoveries in American history. Defendant eventually lost his psychological license due to this and an unrelated but world-famous case (other patient was very famous).
$449,950: Orange County Superior Court (Santa Ana): 45 year old female plaintiff asserted that 80 year old defendant had infected her with genital herpes during 6 week relationship. Defendant denied prior knowledge of infection.
$401,000: Los Angeles Superior Court (Long Beach): Medical malpractice case arising from defendant radiologist's failure to properly identify subdural hematoma leading to apparent visual problems which were attributed to malingering since the complaints were patently inconsistent with the objective testing. Later, on Mr. Kapp's initiative, was able to prove, even to the satisfaction of defense experts, that the underlying problem was a brain injury with a substantive cognitive component. This settlement was against radiologist only; trial proceeded against general practitioner who claimed reliance upon a negative report by a neurologist.
$400,000+: Various Cases vs Melvyn Rosenstein, M.D. collectively known as the “Penile Enlargement Cases” (Los Angeles Superior Court (Santa Monica), 1995-1999). Participated in approximately 6 of about 200 coordinated cases asserted gross negligence on the part of the defendant urologist for performance of internationally promoted so-called "penile enlargement" surgeries, resulting in ugly scarring of the penile shaft and other complaints. Defendant physician relinquished his medical license and subsequently filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, although insurance coverage continued to cover the malpractice-only claims. Average claim was settled for around $40,000 (our claims settled for average of approximately $85,000).
$365,600: Orange County Superior Court (Santa Ana): Settled immediately prior to jury selection. Client sustained 9 fractured ribs and other injuries due to traffic signal malfunction.
$365,000: Meighan vs Singh, Los Angeles Superior Court NEC 62190. Settled on day of trial. Defendants failed to timely initiate thrombolytic treatment for acute myocardial infraction thereby causing 63 year old patient to sustain significant loss of myocardium (heart muscle). (9/91) Also handled related legal malpractice case eventually reported as Meighan vs. Shore (1995) 34 Cal.App.4th 1025, 40 Cal.Rptr.2d 744.
$270,000: Los Angeles Superior Court (Van Nuys): 22 year old primogene with eclampsia died as a result of failure of loosely-supervised second year family practice resident's failure to provide sufficient anti-hypertensive medication. Decedent had just legally immigrated to U.S. weeks before death and had no work history. Baby survived without injury. Defendant supervising physician was one of the most prominent OB/GYNs in Southern California. Case settled just prior to trial.
$248,260: Los Angeles Superior Court (Central): Insurance bad faith case arising from insurer's failure to pay for home nursing care for patient with advanced Huntington's Disease. Obtained summary adjudication on coverage and intended third-party beneficiary status of plaintiff nurses; writs were denied. Case was ultimately held to be preempted by ERISA based on line of cases beginning 2 days prior to first trial date. Settlement represented nearly 100% of unpaid bills and attorney's fees (only surviving claims under ERISA).
$215,000 (approximate): Los Angeles Superior Court (San Fernando): Structured settlement for estranged wife ($35,000) and 6 year old daughter for death of drug-dependant unemployed non-custodial mechanic father killed in freeway truck vs. pedestrian accident under mysterious circumstances.
$212,500: Los Angeles Superior Court (Long Beach): Defendant general surgeon confirmed the existence of a palpable breast lump and obtained a mammogram which was highly suggestive of early breast cancer. Defendant failed to advise 45 year old patient of this or recommend an immediate breast biopsy or other follow up care. Breast cancer was diagnosed less than 2 years later. By time of settlement (3 weeks before trial), plaintiff's cancer was terminal and she was not expected to survive even to trial. Defense claimed that the mammogram was as a baseline and that plaintiff had been called by physician and told to return in 3 to 6 months for second mammogram.
$210,000: Orange County Superior Court (Santa Ana): Defendant plastic surgeon did contraindicated one-stage medically-necessary breast reduction, resulting in loss of breast tissue bilaterally. Liability was obvious (ultimately physician lost license based on this and several other cases), but defendant medical group denied agency and claimed that the injuries were not substantial. Settled within 2 months of trial.
$200,000: Santa Clara Superior Court (San Jose): Orthopedic surgeon failed to timely diagnose infection, post arthroscopic knee surgery. Defendant asserted that the delay was caused by coincidental, and earlier diagnosed, urinary tract infection. Settled just prior to series of expert depositions.
$200,000: Los Angeles Superior Court (Van Nuys): Defendant surgeon failed to obtain union of distal tibia-fistula fracture, allowing for prolonged, but probably not permanent, non-union.)
$200,000: Los Angeles Superior Court (Central): 49 year old USPS construction worker injured in clear liability motorcycle vs bus accident with documented broken jaw. Case was taken over 2 months before trial with prior mediation offer of $85,000. Handled with Goldstein & Gurbuz.
$200,000: Los Angeles Superior Court (San Fernando): Plaintiff, a 64 year old man with a 20 year history of lower back pain and sciatica and previous radiographic evidence of serious lower back abnormalities, was rear-ended. Plaintiff claimed that the need for the subsequent surgery (a multi-level fusion) on the pre-existing lower back abnormalities was caused by the accident. No earnings were claimed as plaintiff was retired at the time of the accident. Each side produced orthopedic and biomechanical experts on the single question of causation.
$200,000: Los Angeles Superior Court (Pasadena): OB/GYN did surgery for prolapsed vaginal hernia and severed obturator nerve causing impairment of adduction of the involved leg. Injuries to the obturator nerve are extremely rare.
$185,000: Los Angeles Superior Court (Long Beach): Unique medical malpractice against a psychiatrist for failing to establish contact with police after his obsessed, stalking patient (the plaintiff's estranged husband) assaulted plaintiff (who was also his patient and had informed defendant of the assault), leading allowing the husband to "unsuccessfully" attempt to murder plaintiff.
$175,000: Kaiser Arbitration: Kaiser primary care physician failed to obtain annual diabetic eye checks on claimant, an unmarried 68 year old retired ex-convict with a reported 20 year history of untreated diabetes, leading to diabetic retinopathy (functional blindness). Apparent defenses were liability, non-compliance and lack of causation.
$150,000: Ventura County Superior Court: Auto accident case where plaintiff suffered linear skull fracture. Defendant insurer, for more than 2½ years, refused to settle case and declined plaintiff's statutory demand for $100,000 (policy limits). Case was settled at MSC, with insurer agreeing to settle for 1½ times policy limits because of this failure and exposure for excess verdict.
$125,000: San Bernardino Superior Court: 14 year old boy, newly and correctly diagnosed with Marfan's Syndrome, died as a result of delay in performing surgery on ruptured aorta. Decedent was hospitalized, awaiting surgery next morning, at the time of the acute rupture. (Settled without filing.)
$115,000: Los Angeles Superior Court (Compton): Wrongful death of 62 year retired suicidal man after he was “dumped” due to lack of insurance by defendant hospital, Psychiatric Emergency Team (PET) member and emergency room physician. Rare application of 42 U.S.C. § 1395dd (Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), the Federal Anti-Dumping Act).
$115,000: Los Angeles Superior Court (Central): 42 year ex-convict (subsequently employed as union laborer) tripped as he partially feel into an empty tree planter on a sidewalk in Downtown Los Angeles. Torn medial meniscus with surgery. Settled 2 weeks before trial.
$100,000: Doe vs Doe Mortuary: (Not filed) Settled claim for lack of security within 2 weeks of occurrence arising from break-in at defendant facility where burglars sexually molested client’s deceased mother’s body while awaiting burial. Case identification is confidential.
$100,000: Los Angeles Superior Court (San Fernando): Pediatrician failed to timely diagnose appendicitis in 3½ year old female leading to rupture and 1 week hospitalization. Plaintiff claimed to have residual sporadic vaginal discharges and pain on urination and alleged that she was predisposed to sterility that may require intervention when girl obtains child-bearing age.
$95,573.71: Los Angeles Superior Court (Central): After infant child drowned due, in part, to alleged negligence of father and the child's paternal grandmother at the latter's home, the child's mother (and father's wife), sued the paternal grandmother, over her husband's objections. The father and mother divorced due to their unbreachable differences about the propriety of this wrongful death against the husband's mother. After the wrongful death case was settled by the mother for $300,000, the father/husband sued the mother (now his ex-wife) for his share of the wrongful death recovery (see Ruttenberg vs. Ruttenberg (1997) 53 Cal.App.4th 801, 62 Cal.Rptr.2d 78, which was also Mr. Kapp's case) and the wife's attorney for denying him his alleged rights pursuant to Meighan vs. Shore (1995) 34 Cal.App.4th 1025, 40 Cal.Rptr.2d 744 (also Mr. Kapp's case). (Aspect of this case is reported at Hall vs. Superior Court (2003) 108 Cal.App.4th 706, 133 Cal.Rptr.2d 806, finding no duty from the wife's attorney to the husband.) The settlement was paid personally by the plaintiff's ex-wife.
$90,000: Los Angeles Superior Court (Van Nuys): Defendant dentist attempted to rape patient when confined to dental chair. Defendant claimed that the alleged assault never occurred and that plaintiff was extorting money; defendant was acquitted in related misdemeanor case on that theory. Settlement was entirely paid by malpractice carrier after failure to "reserve rights" to non-coverage. (Defendant was later convicted in a subsequent similar case handled civilly by this office.)
$81,500: Los Angeles Superior Court (Pomona): Insurance bad faith case arising from insurer's failure to pay collision-related damages of about $3500 due to alleged tardy receipt of premium. Settlement on third day of trial was higher than our demand; prior to trial, defendant insurer had offered nothing.
$50,000: Los Angeles Superior Court (Central): Plaintiff's long-term family practitioner, while treating him for an auto accident, determined that plaintiff was at high risk for HIV infection and suggested testing. Plaintiff was concerned with privacy concerns, because of accident case, and refused until defendant agreed to anonymous number-only only testing and absolute privacy. Instead, the defendant identified plaintiff by name and unknown staff person released records to auto accident defendants, pursuant to facially valid subpoena. Defense essentially admitted facts, but claimed that (1) plaintiff suffered no real damage and (2) disclosure was obliged, as a matter of law, by subpoena and the alleged oral agreement was superseded by plaintiff's then-attorney's failure to move to quash. Case settled 1 week prior to heavily fought summary judgment hearing, and 2 weeks to trial, when the defendants paid our demand.