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Exterminator's 12-Foot Plunge Through Mezzanine Results in Spinal Injuries and Fusion

When a company summoned a pest exterminator to handle a rat infestation in their warehouse, the facility neglected to mention the hazards hidden within. The exterminator, dutifully climbing a ladder to a mezzanine, began a routine inspection. Without warning, the floor underneath him collapsed. He plunged 12 feet to the next level, landing on unforgiving concrete. The exterminator's vertebrae cracked as he impacted the floor; his ribs broke in multiple places.

Upon reaching the emergency room, the medical team underestimated the severity of his spinal injuries, focusing instead on his other fractures. This delay allowed his condition to deteriorate. Consequently, the exterminator had to undergo emergency spinal fusion surgery on his lower lumbar region — a desperate attempt to halt the progression of his spinal damage. This unforeseen setback added layers of anguish and uncertainty to his already traumatic experience.

After recovery, the exterminator learned he would require a cane to walk comfortably for the rest of his life. As the worker's wife grappled with the aftermath of the incident, she sought the expertise of Ashkahn Mohamadi at Sweet James, LLP. Ashkahn, a specialist in catastrophic injury cases, anticipated a trial and swiftly gathered a comprehensive team of experts. Alongside managing partner Bobby Taghavi, his team included a liability expert to evaluate and testify about the premises' safety failures and a medical team consisting of a neurosurgeon, a physical rehabilitation expert, and a lifecare planner to assess and articulate the extent of the injuries. In addition, early in the case, Ashkahn partnered with DK Global. He knew that he wanted an animation that illustrated his client's injuries that could serve as an easy reference during litigation.

The Defendant insurance company enlisted a formidable international law firm. They were prepared to shield themselves from liability at all costs. Ashkahn's team faced an uphill battle, navigating through a maze of 18 motions to compel, 37 depositions, and over 8,500 pages of document review. The Defense’s strategy was based on denial, claiming their client was unaware of the hazardous mezzanine areas. Their goal was to have the case dismissed as an unfortunate accident. In addition, the Defense systematically refused to comply with discovery requests without judicial intervention, prolonging the case unnecessarily.

Ashkahn's relentless efforts unearthed a photo from an HVAC repairman that revealed a previously concealed hazard at the exact location where his client fell. This pivotal discovery became the linchpin in unraveling the Defense's narrative. The day before mediation, Ashkahn received a call from the Defense stating they would not offer a single penny. Outraged by their indifference to his client's suffering, Ashkahn was more determined than ever to pursue justice at trial. Armed with his newfound evidence, compelling expert testimonies, and a detailed DK Global animation, he was ready to vividly demonstrate the extent of his client's injuries to the court.

The animation began with a 3D model of the Plaintiff’s skeleton, focusing on his spine. The fractured L1 and L3 vertebrae were depicted in great depth alongside their corresponding radiology images. Two displaced discs were also shown. Then, the animation cut to the surgery of the discs being removed along with the L3 vertebrae. A NuVasive X-Core titanium cage was placed to act as a synthetic replacement for the damaged spine. Last, the Plaintiff was animated, lying on his back. An incision was made to place a total of 6 screws on his lower vertebrae. Rods were inserted, and the exposed joints were sealed.

After enduring years of stalling tactics — including no settlement offers and repeated cancellations of mediation sessions — the Defense recognized that Ashkahn’s potent combination of the animation and evidence would likely sway a jury in his client’s favor. This realization prompted them to finally enter serious negotiations. Three insurance adjusters converged from different parts of the country, initially offering lowball figures far below the requested amount. As the trial loomed, the Defense conceded, extending a settlement offer of $13,250,000.

Ashkahn Mohamadi, a distinguished litigation partner at Sweet James, LLP, is renowned for his expertise in catastrophic injury law. He has a proven track record of securing justice for victims with severe injuries. A top-rated award-winning trial lawyer, Ashkahn was honored as a Super Lawyers Rising Star in 2019 and 2020. His remarkable legal career includes recovering over $100 million for his clients, with notable verdicts like a $22.75 million victory in Carla Thomas v. Nienteenee Corp., $3.55 million victory in Arsenio Madero v. Mercedes Broughton and a $1.55 million verdict in Eva Bedford-Oppong v. Samantha Hereu.

Bobby Taghavi, Managing Partner at Sweet James, LLP, has distinguished himself with a 17-year career that spans a broad spectrum of the legal field, including over 90 trials to verdict in civil and criminal cases. Most notably, a $22.75 million verdict in Carla Thomas v. Nineteenee Corp. Renowned for his tenure at the Orange County District Attorney's office, Bobby’s expertise in prosecuting high-profile sexual assault cases and his significant contributions to the Golden State Killer Task Force have made him a respected figure in both local and national legal circles. Beyond his prosecutorial achievements, Bobby has passionately advocated for survivors of sexual crimes, applying his vast trial experience to secure justice for those affected by sexual harassment, assault, and abuse. His leadership as President of the Association of Orange County Deputy District Attorneys and his role in educating law enforcement and legal professionals underscore his commitment to justice and mentorship.



has distinguished himself with a 17-year career that spans a broad spectrum of the legal field, including over 90 trials to verdict in civil and criminal cases. Most notably, a $22.75 million verdict in Carla Thomas v. Nineteenee Corp. Renowned for his tenure at the Orange County District Attorney's office, Bobby’s expertise in prosecuting high-profile sexual assault cases and his significant contributions to the Golden State Killer Task Force have made him a respected figure in both local and national legal circles. Beyond his prosecutorial achievements, Bobby has passionately advocated for survivors of sexual crimes, applying his vast trial experience to secure justice for those affected by sexual harassment, assault, and abuse. His leadership as President of the Association of Orange County Deputy District Attorneys and his role in educating law enforcement and legal professionals underscore his commitment to justice and mentorship.


"They [DK Global] not only understand how to create an animation — and create an effective animation — but they also understand the foundational challenges that we face as lawyers in terms of making sure this evidence is admissible."
Ashkahn Mohamadi - Sweet James Accident Attorneys
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