Landmark Cases

Pannu v. Land Rover North America
Defective Product/Catastrophic Injury
Result: $25,281,078.31 – On December 14, 2003, Sukh Pannu, a world class field hockey star from Hong Kong, was driving his 1998 Land Rover Discovery I on the westbound 118 Freeway when a westbound car encroached into his lane and made an impact with the driver side of his vehicle. As a result, Mr. Pannu was forced to make an evasive maneuver which caused the Land Rover to go out of control and roll 2 ½ times on the freeway, causing Mr. Pannu spinal injuries that rendered him a partial quadriplegic. At trial, as Mr. Pannu’s chief trial attorney, Garo Mardirossian proved that the Land Rover Discovery I is defective in both its stability and roof design, resulting in a judgment in favor of Sukh Pannu. Land Rover appealed the verdict. The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment in favor of Mr. Pannu in a published opinion which is often cited by attorneys who represent injured parties.

Uno v. Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.
Products Liability/Wrongful Death
Result: $10,000,000.00 – On August 28, 2009, sixty-six-year-old Noriko Uno was driving her 2006 Toyota Camry on southbound Euclid Avenue, in Upland, when the driver side of her car was struck at a low speed by a 2003 Lexus operated by Olga Bello. After the impact, Mrs. Uno’s car suddenly and unexpectedly accelerated to speeds of nearly 100 miles per hour as it proceeded southbound. In an effort to control the sudden unexpected acceleration of her Camry, Mrs. Uno attempted various actions, which included stepping on the brake pedal and pulling the hand brake. None of her efforts were successful in slowing or controlling the 2006 Camry, which continued to accelerate at a high rate of speed and eventually struck a telephone pole and a tree, causing Mrs. Uno’s death. Toyota Motor Corp. issued a recall for 2007 Camry’s to install a brake override system. Most vehicles are now equipped with some type of system that gives the brake priority if the gas and brake pedals are operated simultaneously. The jury returned verdict in favor of Jeffrey Uno and Peter Uno, the son and husband, respectively, of Noriko Uno in the amount of $10,000,000. The defendants appealed while post-judgment interest on the judgment accumulated. In 2015, the defendants settled the case at the steps of the Court of Appeal just prior to oral argument.

Duan v. General Motors
Products Liability/Catastrophic Injury
Result: Confidential Settlement – On August 15, 1999, the Duan family was traveling in a rented 1999 Chevrolet Astro van in Northern California when the van rolled over three times, paralyzing Mr. Duan and causing moderate injuries to the other occupants of the van. In this lawsuit plaintiffs’ trial attorney, Garo Mardirossian, obtained a court order requiring that General Motors release to the public, for the first time, thousands of GM documents concerning roof-crush in rollover accidents. Specifically, the previously undisclosed GM documents, including Malibu I and Malibu II roof-crush testing, became public. After release of these critical product liability documents by GM, this case concluded with a confidential settlement reached after eight days of jury deliberations.

Zerby v. City of Long Beach, et al.
Police Misconduct/Wrongful Death
Result: $6,510,000.00 – On December 12, 2010, Douglas Zerby was an unarmed man on the 5300 block of East Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach, seated on an exterior stairway and holding a metal water nozzle. Although Mr. Zerby was intoxicated he had committed no crime, and he was simply seated on the stairway bothering no one. Long Beach Police Officers arrived at the scene, and observed Mr. Zerby for over seven minutes from safe locations. Several officers had close-up observation of Mr. Zerby through riffle scopes. The officers fired six times with a handgun and two times with a shotgun, without identifying themselves to the decedent, without ordering him to drop the object in his hand, and without any verbal warning to make him aware that they were there. An autopsy showed that Mr. Zerby had 12 entry wounds. The jury returned verdict in favor of decedent’s parents, Mark Zerby and Pamela Amici, and the decedent’s son, River Sentell in the sum of $6,510,000. The jury found the City of Long Beach and Long Beach Police Department to be vicariously liable for this use of deadly force by the officers. The city appealed, but the judgment in favor of Plaintiffs was affirmed.

Thomas v. City of Fullerton, et al.
Police Misconduct/Wrongful Death
Result: $4,900,000.00 – On the evening of July 5, 2011, Kelly Thomas, a mentally ill homeless man, was brutally beaten to death by six Fullerton police officers. Officers Ramos and Wolfe, and other Fullerton police officers, pinned Kelly down on the pavement and used their fists and knees to pummel him as Kelly was screaming, “I’m sorry… I can’t breathe… I can’t breathe… Dad… Dad, help me… Oh, God, help me.” During this prolonged beating by multiple Fullerton police officers, Kelly could be heard stating 9 times, “I can’t breathe,” and 31 times Kelly called out, “Dad, help me.” When the paramedics arrived at the scene, it was determined that Kelly had no heartbeat and was not breathing. Ironically, Kelly’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather were police officers. This case was widely reported in the United States and internationally as CNN and other news outlets followed the tragic incident that caused the death of Kelly Thomas. On November 23, 2015, Garo Mardirossian resolved for $4.9 million against the City of Fullerton, Fullerton Police Department and Fullerton police officers. The settlement was the culmination of over four years of intensive litigation during which Mr. Mardirossian and his law firm took 46 depositions of witnesses, involved police officers, supervising officers at the Fullerton Police Department, and others. Mr. Mardirossian hired 14 expert witnesses who were prepared to testify about a wide variety of complex issues including restraint asphyxia, police training and practices, and the medical issues involved in the cause of Kelly’s death. The settlement occurred as Garo was about to give his opening statement to the jury, after which Garo was scheduled to call the lead perpetrator of the Fullerton police officers, Manuel Ramos, to be cross examined before the jury. From the outset of this case, Mr. Mardirossian battled against five separate major law firms that were representing the Fullerton governmental entities and the individual police officers.

Dole v. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
Police Misconduct
Result: $24,850,000.00 – The Dole family was gathered for a bridal shower attended by 35 relatives at their home in a quiet area of Cerritos. When someone phoned the police to falsely report that men were fighting with knives outside the Dole home, Sheriff’s Deputies wearing riot gear descended on the Dole residence. Although no one was engaging in any hostile activity outside the house, the Sheriff’s Deputies swarmed into the house, severely beat those inside and dragged unresisting men, women and children outside to the front lawn to be handcuffed. Many Dole family members were taken to jail. Unknown to Sheriff’s Deputies, these events were videotaped by a private citizen. Although criminal charges were brought against members of the Dole family, not a single conviction was obtained. Garo Mardirossian was the chief trial attorney in the civil rights action on behalf of the Dole family. After jury verdict in favor of plaintiffs, judgment was entered in the amount of $24,850,000 – the largest judgment ever obtained and collected against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Saakyan v. Modern Auto
Faulty Tire/Catastrophic Injury
Result: $26,900,000.00 – In June, 1992, 17 year old Oganes Saakyan picked up his sister’s Honda at Modern Auto, which had just installed unsafely large wheels and tires on the vehicle. Upon entering the freeway, the Honda lost control and rolled down an embankment rendering Oganes Saakyan a paraplegic. The first trial resulted in jury verdict for the defense – after which Garo Mardirossian appealed and obtained a reversal. The second trial resulted in jury verdict for plaintiff, and judgment in the amount of $26,900,000. As this case involved two trials and an appeal, Garo Mardirossian spent 11 years obtaining compensation for the injuries suffered by Oganes Saakyan.

Castillo v. Korman Center Enterprises
Landlord Negligence
Result: $5,800,000.00 including punitives – On a cold December night, 9 year old Quantez Castillo got out of bed and went to the kitchen of his mother’s tenement apartment to get a glass of juice from the refrigerator. His mother had requested numerous times that the landlord fix the apartment heater, and had been repeatedly ignored. On that night, she left the gas burners of the stove turned on to heat the apartment. As Quanez stood adjacent to the refrigerator, the gas flame of the stove set his pajamas on fire causing Quantez to suffer severe burns. The defense offer of settlement at the start of trial was $151,000. On behalf of young Quantez Castillo, Garo Mardirossian obtained a jury verdict against the landlord in the amount of $2,500,000 in compensatory damages and $3,300,000 in punitive damages, for a total verdict of $5,800,000. Garo Mardirossian obtained personal payment of the punitive damages by the landlord.

McCardle v. Greyhound Motor Lines, Inc.
Low Impact Soft Tissue Accident
Result: $15,967,000.00 – Plaintiff, a 50 year old chiropractor, was a passenger on a Greyhound bus when it came to a sudden stop on the freeway, causing Mr. McCardle a neck injury that required two surgeries and left him a partial quadriplegic. The defendant claimed the event was so insignificant that it could not have caused more than a minor neck strain. Garo Mardirossian obtained jury verdict against the defendant in the sum of $15,967,000.

Gozukara v. Ford Motor Company, et al.
Faulty Product/Catastrophic Injury
Result: $14,900,000.00 – This historic case was the first verdict in American history where a jury in Barstow, after a four-month trial, found the Ford Explorer to be defective in rollover propensity. On May 24, 1997, the Gozukara family was driving in their 1994 Ford Explorer on the I-15 freeway to Las Vegas. When Mr. Gozukara braked and swerved to avoid an encroaching vehicle, the Ford Explorer vibrated violently causing loss of control before the Explorer rolled over multiple times. Mrs. Gozukara was rendered quadriplegic and other members of the family suffered severe injuries. Garo Mardirossian, as chief trial attorney for plaintiffs, established that the Ford Explorer was defectively designed.

Hakimian v. Gabbai
Landlord Negligence
Result: $6,650,000.00 – On January 22, 1996, the stove in Mr. Hakimian’s apartment on Beverly Boulevard exploded, causing him to suffer second and third degree burns over 30% of his body, as well as post traumatic stress disorder. Prior to the incident Mr. Hakimian was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and often engaged in bizarre behavior. The Los Angeles Fire Department arson squad found no evidence of fire in the apartment. Before trial the defense offered a total of $100,000 in settlement. At trial, Garo Mardirossian proved that the initial investigation was not adequate, that the gas jets of the stove were misaligned and malfunctioning, and that Mr. Hakimian’s complaints to the landlord about the stove had been ignored. The jury returned verdict in favor of Mr. Hakimian in the amount of $6,650,000.

Lytle v. Riviera Country Club
Bulldozer Accident
Result: $3,625,000.00 – On July 28, 1993, Mr. Lytle, an antitrust lawyer, was playing golf as a guest at Riviera Country Club. As Mr. Lytle was pulling the driver out of his golf bag on the third tee, a bulldozer operator drove up a hill from behind Mr. Lytle and struck him at slow speed. The bulldozer caused a one-quarter inch abrasion to the back of Mr. Lytle’s head, which did not require stitches. Diagnostic testing showed no brain damage. However, Mr. Lytle experienced persistent headaches and cognitive deficits after the incident, forcing him to withdraw from the practice of law. At trial, Garo Mardirossian established that the incident caused Mr. Lytle to suffer mild traumatic brain injury with permanent residual deficits, resulting in a jury verdict in the amount of $3,625,000.00.

Palmer v. Schindler Elevator
Elevator Accident
Result: $7,400,000.00 – A 39-year-old legal secretary in the Union Square Building suffered injuries while riding an elevator. The elevator dropped from the thirty-first floor and came to an abrupt halt on the 8th floor. Ms. Palmer suffered fractures including a broken elbow, left leg, post-traumatic stress disorder, and mild traumatic closed head injury. On Ms. Palmer’s behalf, Garo Mardirossian brought suit against the building owner, the building management company, and the elevator company. Defendants denied liability contending she fell because she was wearing high heels and that the accident was an unforeseeable “act of God.” The defense offer of settlement at the start of trial was $1,450,000. Plaintiff demanded $1,500,000. At trial, the jury awarded Ms. Palmer $7,400,000.

Yang v. Toyota Motor Company, et al.
Products Liability
Result: Confidential Settlement – On June 22, 2000, Jian Zhong Yang, his wife Yuan Xue Lee, and their daughter Annie Yang, were involved in a multi-vehicle automobile collision on the Golden State Freeway (I-5) in Los Angeles County, California. As a result of the accident, Mr. Yang was rendered a quadriplegic. The Toyota Paseo involved in this case was equipped with an automatic shoulder harness and manual lap belts — a restraint design that received laudatory comments from the government and the automotive industry. However, the defect in this restraint system arose from its design and a failure to warn, because there was an alarmingly high non-usage rate for the ‘passive’ part of the system, leaving ordinary consumers exposed to a risk of severe injury or death. In essence, the design of the automatic shoulder harness provided consumers with a misleading sense of safety and a false sense of security. This case resulted in a substantial confidential settlement.

Nicholson v. Alhambra School District
Pedestrian Wrongful Death
Result: $4,600,000.00 – On August 29, 1994, plaintiffs, two women ages 41 and 45, were walking with their 3 ½ year-old niece, the decedent. An employee of the defendant school district, who was driving a 1967 Mercury Cougar northbound on 4th Street, collided in the intersection with a 1983 Chevrolet Camaro being operated by a 17 year old driver eastbound on Main Street. Upon impact the Cougar veered at high speed onto the sidewalk on the northwest corner of the intersection, striking the three pedestrians. The child died at the scene of the accident. The 41-year old woman suffered injuries to her lower extremities, ultimately requiring the amputation of her right leg. The 45-year old lady sustained soft-tissue injuries and witnessed the injuries to her sister and niece. Mediation was held on July 22, 1997, before Jeffrey Krivis, Esq., resulting in the settlement.

Thienmanne v. Nissan Motor Corporation
Product Liability/Wrongful Death
Result: $3,150,000.00 – On May 20, 1992, a LAPD patrol car responding to a 911 call ran a stop sign and struck the driver side of a 1992 Nissan Sentra operated by Priaporn Thienmanne, a 16 year old student. The impact caused the driver door of Ms. Thienmanne’s car to open and her car to spin severely counter-clockwise. As the impact forces moved Ms. Thienmanne’s body leftward toward the open door of her vehicle, her shoulder belt engaged Ms. Thienmanne’s neck and head causing her to expire from strangulation. In this action for wrongful death, Garo Mardirossian established that the occupant restraint system of the 1992 Nissan Sentra, which consisted of a motorized shoulder harness and manual lap belt, was defectively designed in a manner which contributed to the death of Ms. Thienmanne. This was the first verdict against Nissan finding its seatbelt design to be defective. The jury awarded total damages in the amount of $3,150,000.

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