Jury Reduces Fan’s Award in Case Against L.A. Dodgers

On September 16, 2009, longtime Los Angeles Dodgers fan, Leonard Romo, suffered injuries after Dodgers’ security guards tackled, handcuffed, and dragged him. He suffered shoulder, knee, back, and neck injuries, missed work, and later underwent knee surgery. Romo subsequently sued the Los Angeles Dodgers. According to the Dodgers, Romo and his daughter became belligerent after security guards asked Romo’s daughter to turn her T-shirt inside out because it had offensive language on it.

After the 2016 personal injury action, Romo a jury awarded $475,000. Of the $475,000, $175,000 was awarded for past medical expenses, $150,000 for future medical expenses, $50,000 in past noneconomic damages, and $100,000 for future noneconomic damages, but the award was reduced by 33.33 percent due to Romo’s own negligence. The Dodgers appealed the award contending that the award for past and future medical expenses was not supported by substantial evidence. Further, the Dodgers argued that there was no evidence that Romo incurred or paid any medical expenses. The Dodgers also argued that since the economic damages were not supported by substantial evidence, the noneconomic damages award also must also be reversed, reasoning that “the cost of medical care is an important indicator of a plaintiff’s non-economic damages.”

On April 4, 2018, the California Court of Appeal, Second District, agreed with the Dodgers and reduced Leonard Romo’s. According to the opinion, “the noneconomic damage award and the award of future medical expenses are supported by the record. However, because plaintiff did not demonstrate the reasonable value of a portion of the billed expenses for past medical care as required by law, we reduce the damages to the appropriate amount.”

A plaintiff seeking compensation for medical expenses has the burden of establishing: (1) the cost of the medical services he incurred and (2) the reasonableness of those amounts. According to the court, Romo failed to meet his burden. The record reflected only how much was billed for Romo’s past medical treatment, which, according to the Dodgers, raised the question of whether the expenses were “reasonable” and whether Romo actually “incurred” the billed amount or some unknowable lesser amount. In addition, the evidence did not establish that Romo was personally billed for his past medical expenses or that he expected to be billed for those expenses. The Dodgers argued that this raised additional questions of whether Romo “incurred” those expenses.

Thus, the court concluded that Romo did not incur those past medical expenses and his jury award was reduced to $83,697.

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