$35M Verdict Animating Ex-UCLA Lineman’s Amputation
A former lineman for UCLA lost his leg after a taxi cab collided with his motorcycle at a poorly designed intersection with a line-of-sight obstruction. Because the intense level of damage heavily outweighed the cab driver’s insurance policy limits, Garo Mardirossian, Esq., needed to show why California’s Department of Transportation, Caltran, shared liability for his client’s injury, surgery, and destructive impact to his career as a fitness instructor.
Mr. Mardirossian argued that Caltran failed to address a dangerously flawed intersection design - despite receiving complaints about the line of sight problem in the vicinity of the intersection. The Defense argued that the intersection was not dangerous and that Caltran shouldn’t be held responsible because there had never been a “fatal accident” at the intersection in decades. Mr. Mardirossian countered those arguments with witnesses who testified that while no “fatal” accidents had occurred, Caltran had been notified of several wrecks at the intersection, and also received complaints - one made directly to the mayor - warning the government agency of the risks.
The highest amount Caltran would offer was $2.9M, but Mr. Mardirossian believed his client deserved much more compensation for his painful suffering and the enormous obstacles he would now face in his career. He tasked our team with creating a Digital Injury Summary (DIS) that would anchor his argument with graphic visuals of his client’s injury, surgeries, and current condition. The DIS included:
- Injury Illustration to convey the graphic destruction of his client’s leg after the incident.
- Surgery Animation to show the many procedures needed to amputate the plaintiff’s lower leg and reduce his fractured femur.
The following exhibits helped jurors see why the former Division 1 athlete deserved much more compensation for his damages, and they delivered it in the form of a $35M verdict - 30 percent from the taxi driver, and 70 percent from Caltran.
This excerpt below from the Courtroom View Network shows how Mr. Mardirossian presented the surgery animations in his closing. You can also watch how the entire trial unfolded on the Courtroom View Network website, where it's now featured in CVN's online video archive of high-stakes civil trials.
The first two exhibits illustrate the brutal destruction of the former athlete's leg, from his broken femur protruding through his thigh to the deformity of his lower leg that would need to be removed.
Our artists painted the disturbing aftermath alongside Color Diagnostics, emphasizing the traumatic suffering his client experienced with colorized X-ray scans jurors could recognize.
Illustrating the magnitude of a catastrophic injury in graphic detail helps clarify complex issues while anchoring your audience’s understanding of your client's damages powerful visuals they will remember.
Thirteen surgery animations demonstrated the many procedures needed to amputate the plaintiff’s leg. Mr. Mardirossian used the animations in his opening, closing, and orthopedic surgeon's testimony.
Your 13 animated surgeries were very powerful. I had the surgeon go through each one of those and demonstrate why they’re doing what they’re doing. And I can tell you that the jury was mesmerized by it, and realized how much suffering this young man experienced throughout surgery after surgery after surgery - including the last one, which was mainly an ulcer and a cyst that had to be removed. And he has to get that done every two years, and then he has a bone growth that has to be shaved off every 10 years. So all that was shown to the jury and testified to by an orthopedic surgeon.
Garo Mardirossian, Esq., Mardirossian & Associates, Inc.
Demonstrating complex surgical procedures, such as this amputation, helps to simplify details in a way that has a meaningful impact on jurors.
The animation series focuses on specific disturbing details meant to anchor a juror's understanding of the total experience, from a power saw chopping through bone to the open wound being irrigated. Seeing everything involved in these unsettling procedures helps emphasize the level of suffering the plaintiff experienced.
To address the open wound where the femur punctured through the plaintiff's skin, surgeons first drained the wound of infection and irrigated the area.
A week later, surgeons irrigated the wound again, debrided it, and placed a drain to continue sucking infected tissue from inside the plaintiff's hip.
After living four months with metal hardware installed into his femur, surgeons needed to remove a loose locking screw. The animation above captures the totality of the plaintiff's experience. Instead of looking at this amputation as one event, jurors could see the many chapters that unfolded.
The next animation above shows how surgeons placed an antibiotic space within the femoral nonunion, and then removed and replaced the plaintiff's hardware.
Almost a year after the wreck, surgeons needed to repair the persistent nonunion in the plaintiff's femur. They used bone graft from his right femur, removed the antibiotic space, and replaced it with the bone graft.
Surgeons revisited the plaintiff's amputation in this animation, sawing off and removing spiked bone overgrowth from the swollen stub.
As the plaintiff's femoral nonunion persisted, surgeons removed loose bone and soft tissue from the area, reduced the fracture, and replaced bone graft at the break.
The animation above demonstrates how surgeons replaced a new proximal screw in the top of the femur to secure the hardware in place.
Almost two years after the wreck, surgeons removed the retrograde femoral nail, rotated the femur 30 degrees, and placed a new anterograde femoral nail. Animation helps emphasize what all that entails.
Finally, this last animation above shows how surgeons removed an ulcer and a cyst from his leg - a procedure the plaintiff will have to undergo every two years for the rest of his life.
Watch the entire trial unfold on the Courtroom View Network, where it's now featured in CVN's online video archive of high-stakes civil trials.
Micah Kohne, CMO + Visual Media Strategist, High Impact
Micah is High Impact's CMO and Denver-based Visual Media Strategist whose unique background in Design, Art Direction, and Legal Presentation has helped amass the unique blend of talented professionals that makes High Impact the visual powerhouse you see today. Rooted with a deep understanding of art, design, style, and strategy, Micah relishes in the opportunity to help our clients find the most compelling visual solutions possible. Contact Micah to learn more.