There are automobile bumps and bruises and then there are cataclysmic car crashes. Unfortunately for Miami resident David Brown, he found himself stuck with the latter.
While driving to work for his new job as an electrician assistant, Brown’s 2012 Honda CR-V was T-boned at the intersection of Southwest 88th Street and Southwest 117th Avenue around 5:30 a.m. on Feb. 25, 2015. Upon being struck, Brown’s car began to spin before eventually giving way to a roll. After being picked up and transported to Kendall Regional Hospital, Brown’s situation only worsened. Having suffered a traumatic brain injury and with his blood pressure rising, he was placed into a medically induced coma to ease his breathing. He also endured a stroke, and required a tracheotomy, which led to more medical complications.
After being unable to speak, eat or drink for two years, Brown is doing much better these days, his attorney says. With the help of medical professionals and his legal team at Miami law firm Goldberg & Rosen, his discomfort has been allayed with almost $5.4 million from the driver who’d collided with him.
“We knew going into this case there were obstacles,” said Goldberg & Rosen attorney Brett Rosen. With the help of his brother, Judd, as well as fellow firm member Zachary Bodenheimer, Rosen and the others persuaded a Miami-Dade jury to reach a nearly $10.6 million verdict for their client. However, this substantial sum wasn’t reached easily, with 49 percent of fault assigned to Brown on the verdict form.
“It was a he-said, she-said,” Rosen said, noting there were no eyewitnesses to the early-morning incident. Additionally, Brown’s status as a convicted felon with an eighth-grade education did not help to endear him to jurors. His testimony didn’t help either.
“He was confused about which lane of traffic he was in, and that was a major part of [the defense’s] theme: that he didn’t know which lane … and what company he was going to work for,” Rosen said.
Rosen attributed Brown’s not knowing what company he was going to work for to his client’s status as a new hire. Through diligence, Brown’s legal team was able to find compelling evidence assigning fault to the other driver.
While he was examining evidence from the crash, Rosen made an eyebrow-raising discovery.
“I’m looking through the photos again and I realize that her visor on her driver’s side is down,” Rosen said. “It wouldn’t make sense for the visor to be down on her driver’s side if it wasn’t on her passenger’s side. I looked on her Facebook and I saw she went to makeup school. I argued to the jury she was actually putting her makeup on, because why else would she have her visor down?”
Rosen also cited cross-examination of the defendant as well as her partner as particularly pivotal moments in the case.
“Once we were able to get out the fact the defendant admitted Brown’s car came from 117th Avenue, that became hard to overcome,” Rosen said. “They tried to call a surprise witness, [the defendant’s] boyfriend at the time. When I crossed him I was able to get him to admit the only thing the defendant told him at the scene was David’s vehicle was coming north. So I went two for two on that.”
Rosen said his team repeatedly cited the defendant’s testimony for the remainder of the case, as it placed doubt on the findings of their own expert. However, he acknowledged opposing counsel made for a formidable opponent and called the defendant’s attorney, Dan Martinez, a “cream of the crop, brilliant guy.”
Martinez did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
At the end of the day, Rosen attributes their success to the teamwork of the Goldberg & Rosen firm.
“We’re nothing without our team. We have a great staff, great paralegals, we have a great system in place for trying these types of cases. A lot of the legwork was done before the trial because we had to figure out these issues and how people would be receptive to them,” he said. “We felt we made very few, if any, mistakes, which never happens in a trial. It just doesn’t happen. Thank goodness they got the right decision because we believe in our client and the tragedy that he went through.”
Case: David Brown and Tania Jenkins v. Marisol Lugardo-Soto
Case no.: 2015-008856 CA 10
Filing date: April 17, 2015
Verdict date: Dec. 6, 2018
Judge: Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Peter Lopez
Plaintiffs attorneys: Brett Rosen, Judd Rosen and Zachary Bodenheimer; Goldberg & Rosen
Defense attorney: Daniel Martinez and Ben Thomas, Martinez Denbo
Verdict amount: $10,577,853.93