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Cafe Held Accountable for Umbrella Injury that Changed One Woman’s Brain Forever

A traumatic brain injury can change a person’s life in the blink of an eye. Permanent brain damage doesn’t always look catastrophic at a surface level or even on initial scans after the accident. However, even small visual anomalies can indicate devastating life changes. A blow to the temple from a café’s loose umbrella shaft led one woman to suffer severe brain damage that changed her forever. The café had failed to check the latching mechanism on their umbrella stand that secured the umbrella to the heavy base.

Personal injury attorney Daniel Cheren learned about the woman’s incident from the spouse of an old college friend. Daniel was horrified to hear of the devastating impact the injury had on the woman. She had been an incredibly talented writer, an eloquent speaker, and the college provost of a respected university. All of that changed when the café umbrella struck her temple.

One of Daniel’s challenges stemmed from the time that had passed since the incident; he couldn’t access the actual umbrella or umbrella stand that had caused the injury. Nevertheless, Daniel gathered all of the facts and information possible regarding his client and her case. The primary evidence supporting the case was the woman’s MRI and CT scans after the accident, which were taken the day of the incident as well as 11 weeks and 11 months following the hit to her head. In addition, Cheren sought the advice of several professionals, including a neurologist, a neuropsychologist, and a radiologist, who outlined the severity of the woman’s brain injury.

Daniel learned about DK Global and their trial animations while attending a medical conference. He resolved that 3D animations could provide the kind of visual aid necessary to demonstrate to a jury the accident’s profound consequences on his client’s emotional, psychological, and mental state. He enlisted DK Global’s help to create a video presentation and tailored details to his precise needs. The video allowed Cheren to explain the how, what, and why of the accident and the injury while also appealing to the viewer’s sense of empathy.

The animation began by establishing the location of the incident on a map, zooming into the Southern California café. Two women — the Plaintiff and her friend — sat at a small table underneath an umbrella. Suddenly, the umbrella flew up and out of its cylindrical stand and struck the Plaintiff’s temple. The animation zoomed in to reveal a depiction of the woman’s brain inside her head. It demonstrated how the hit caused a coup-contrecoup injury, where both sides of the brain become injured due to the brain ricocheting from one side of the skull to the other. CT and MRI scans displayed hemorrhaging on the left side of the brain and long-lasting lesions on both the right and left frontal lobes.

Next, the video displayed an animation of the woman’s head in profile, with the anatomy of her brain depicted inside her skull. It pointed out the location of the woman’s brain damage and revealed what happens on a cellular level when neurons are injured and destroyed.

Last, the view shifted to a picture of the top of the woman’s head. Her MRI scans were overlaid as cross-sections of her brain, highlighting each injured region. The scans transitioned from those taken immediately after the accident to 11 weeks later, followed by eleven months later. The MRI clearly showed the extent of the damage and the number of lesions on both frontal lobes.

Daniel attempted to mediate the case but was unsuccessful. The Defense initially came to the table unwilling to settle. Shortly before trial, the judge ordered Daniel and the Defense to hold a mandatory settlement conference. In the face of Daniel’s evidence, experts, and the animation, the Defense saw the overwhelming strength of the Plaintiff’s case. They came up with a settlement offer that was “too good to refuse.”

Daniel Cheren is the owner of the Encino-based boutique litigation firm Cheren & Associates. Cheren began his career in law after graduating from Boston University School of Law. Since then, he has worked as a litigator in Washington, DC, representing major U.S. defense companies and handled banking and admiralty cases in Israel before establishing his practice in California. Cheren got into personal injury law to help people who are hurt, who have suffered devastating injuries and need to get back on their feet. He describes the practice as “putting shattered lives back together.”


"Oftentimes in personal injury cases, we're dealing with either how an accident takes place or how an injury took place, which are complicated. And an animation allows people to visualize it."
Daniel Cheren - Cheren & Associates
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