By Jacob Regar
On Monday, January 28, 2013, my father - Barry Regar - and I received very good news when a Riverside County jury returned a verdict in favor of our client in her personal injury case against Costco Corporation. The case was based on negligence and
premises liability. I was co-counsel in this trial.
Our client was injured at a Costco store while shopping for a television with her husband. She was in the TV display aisle. Costco displayed their TV's on rows of pallets with TV boxes stacked on top of one another. An employee was helping another couple by removing a TV right beside where our client was standing, and in the process, dislodged a TV that was right in front of our client. The TV fell from the top row onto the client's upper arm and injured her shoulder. The shoulder required surgery.
The trial was relatively short, lasting only 4-days. But, liability was disputed. Costco's employee testified in her deposition that she was holding onto the sides of the TV box that was positioned right next to the TV that fell. She claimed that she didn't see the TV fall and she didn't know why it fell. She stated that no one else besides her touched any of the TV's.
Our client testified that she saw the employee move the TV box so that the couple that she was helping could read the information on the side of the box.
During her cross-examination at trial, the employee contradicted the testimony she gave in her deposition and stated that she never touched the sides of the TV box.
The employee's manager was examined at trial and he testified that the employee told him after the TV fell that she was "moving the TV and the TV beside it fell."
The employee was impeached several times during her cross-examination after it was shown that her deposition testimony was different than her trial testimony. At one point, when the employee was being examined in trial, she was asked whether our client made any statements to her after the TV fell. The employee said "yes, she said the 'TV hit my bad arm.'"
That statement was a hail marry attempt by the defendant to allege that our client had a hurt right arm prior to the accident at the store. Apparently, the defendant thought that would convince the jury that our client's injury was not caused by the TV, but instead was due to a pre-existing injury. The problem with that attempt was twofold: (1) there was no evidence that our client had a "bad" arm prior to the TV striking it, and (2) the employee stated in her deposition that after the TV fell, our client stated to her "a TV hit my arm." Our client never said
bad arm. In trial, credibility is everything, and at that point, the employee's credibility went out the window.
To prove our client's shoulder injury was related to the accident in the store, we had to call our client's shoulder surgeon to provide expert testimony. The defendant hired a defense medical expert who actually agreed with our client's own doctor that the TV that fell on our client's arm caused her shoulder injury.
We spoke to the jury after the verdict was read and they stated that they believed that it was Costco's responsibility to secure the TV's that were on display and prevent them from falling on customers. They also related to us that they enjoyed being picked as jurors and they found the process very interesting and eye opening.
Trial is an amazing process. So much work and detail goes into working up a case for trial. Even though the goal in any personal injury case is for the parties to reach a fair and reasonable settlement, sometimes trial becomes necessary. And that's why when you are considering hiring a personal injury lawyer, you want to make sure the lawyers you are researching have trial experience.
I want to congratulate my father, Barry Regar, for doing an excellent job in trial. He fights very hard for his clients. His cross-examination of the defendant's medical expert was really sharp, as was his closing argument. Trying cases with my father continues to be an awesome experience. I am grateful to always learn so much from his tremendous skill and experience.