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Favorable Settlement After Defective Toy Cart Causes TBI & Fractured Skull

Toy manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure their products are safe and reliable for the children that use them. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case with a defective toy cart. The manufacturer designed the product to be pushed from behind using a long handle, which was secured to the cart by a removable pin. Over time, these pins eroded and loosened, causing the handles to disconnect from the cart when in use. Consequently, when three-year-old Juan sat in the toy during one of his family's walks around their sloped neighborhood, the pin fell out. Juan zoomed downhill on a 115-foot walkway and slammed headfirst into a concrete wall.

Juan was taken to a hospital. X-rays and MRIs showed a skull fracture, but the doctors declared his injuries were mild, making little effort to investigate his condition. He was released and never received treatment. Nearly ten years passed, and he had trouble focusing, reading, and retaining information in school — telltale signs of a traumatic brain injury. His family knew his poor academic performance stemmed from the incident a decade earlier.

Juan’s family realized they needed help getting him the care he needed. In their search for an attorney, they were referred to Ara Jabagchourian of the Law Offices of Ara Jabagchourian, P.C. and Howry Breen & Herman LLP’s Christopher Lavorato. However, the case was fraught with challenges due to the years-long gap.

Ara and Chris retained half a dozen experts to help build their case, including a pediatric neurologist and neuropsychologist, a rehabilitation specialist, and a products liability expert. As the experts evaluated Juan’s condition, they identified that axonal shearing likely occurred when Juan’s head impacted the cement wall. The human brain is made up of white matter and gray matter, which are different densities. When Juan’s brain was jostled, the white and gray matter moved around at different speeds within his skull. This caused the axons to tear where the two tissues connected, resulting in permanent brain deficits.

Next, the products liability expert analyzed the cart and its materials. He recreated the incident at the scene and recorded the crash’s dynamics. Ara and Chris had all the evidence and expert analysis required to make a compelling argument. However, they recognized that presenting their argument persuasively — first to a mediator and the other side, and eventually to a jury — was just as important. Thus, they contacted DK Global to assemble their experts’ findings into an animated reconstruction and medical presentation.

The animation began with an overview of the toy cart, highlighting the removable metal pin that secured the handle only by friction. A document explained a product recall was in place, warning users that the pin can loosen and separate from the buggy easily. Next, using the evidence acquired by the products liability expert, the pedestrian bridge was recreated and showed Juan careening down the slope, crashing headfirst into the cement wall. Then, a 3D model of Juan’s likeness showed the abrasion to his forehead before transitioning to his fractured skull. Finally, with the neurology experts’ findings, Juan’s coup contrecoup and axonal injuries were illustrated, explaining his diminished cognitive functioning.

Ara and Chris attended their first mediation and laid out their evidence, the animation, and their expert testimony. The opposing counsel increased their offer, but Ara and Chris declined and prepared for trial. Then, the Defense unsuccessfully tried to delay the court date by raising several motions to the assigned judge. They finally agreed to settle the case for Ara and Chris’ demand several days before trial.

Ara Jabagchourian of the Law Offices of Ara Jabagchourian, P.C. prides himself on being a trial lawyer, representing his clients in personal injury, product liability, and business litigation matters. Ara has been named a Northern California “Super Lawyer” since 2019 and has had his law firm recognized as one of the “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News & World Report. Notably, Ara was awarded the highest single wrongful death verdict in San Diego County history.

Christopher Lavorato is a partner at Howry Breen & Herman LLP, specializing in representing the survivors of catastrophic injuries, wrongful death, and construction defects. Rated “AV Preeminent” by Martindale Hubbell in 2014, Chris was recognized as one of the “Top 100 Civil Plaintiff” attorneys by The National Trial Lawyers, securing multi-million-dollar resolutions for his clients.

"The value of using DK Global is immense. When we go to, for example, a mediation, and we show the graphical depictions... there is a surprise factor when they see what actually happened. My partner calls it 'the DK Global effect'."
Christopher Lavorato – Howry Breen & Herman LLP
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