Ryvkin v. Land Rover Encino, et al. (LC070325)

The Honorable Michael Harwin, Los Angeles County Superior Court-Van Nuys

PRODUCTS LIABILITY:

Negligence

Wrongful Death

PARTIES/ATTORNEYS:

Plaintiffs, Susan Ryvkin, Alisha Ryvkin (Minor through Guardian Ad-Litem), and Zachary Ryvkin (Minor through Guardian Ad-Litem) were represented by Adam K. Shea, Esq.  and Debra Chang, Esq. (Panish, Shea & Boyle, LLP)

Defendant, Land Rover Encino was represented by Elizabeth L. Kolar, Esq. (Kolar & Associates) and Greg Amundson, Esq. (Wood, Smith, Henning & Berman)

FACTS:

On January 18, 2003, Decedent Leon Ryvkin and his wife Susan Ryvkin were driving to Las Vegas.  Decedent Leon Ryvkin was driving northbound on the 405 Freeway in a 2002 Land Rover Discovery II.  Plaintiff alleged that the vehicle began to fishtail causing it to rollover twice.  The CHP found that Leo Ryvkin caused the rollover by oversteering in response to a right rear tire disablement.  Neither the decedent nor his passenger (his wife, Susan) were wearing their seat belts. Decedent was ejected from the vehicle, receiving fatal injuries to his head. Susan Ryvkin was thrown to the back of the vehicle, but only received minor injuries.

PLAINTIFFS’ CONTENTIONS:  Plaintiffs alleged Land Rover Encino was negligent in servicing and repairing the SUV two days before the accident. Plaintiffs alleged that Land Rover Encino failed to inspect the right rear tire in response to Plaintiff’s ABS brake complaint.  Plaintiffs further alleged that the service writer failed to write down plaintiffs’ alleged complaints that the vehicle was shaking and vibrating.

DEFENDANT’S CONTENTIONS:  Defendant denied that Plaintiff made any complaint of shaking or vibration.  Instead, Plainitffs only complained that the ABS went on with normal braking.  Defense argued that the service and repairs performed by Land Rover Encino were not a substantial cause of the accident because there was no way that the Plaintiff could have driven an additional 80 miles after leaving Land Rover Encino with 2 allegedly rear flat tires with 5 psi or less.  Defense further argued that the decedent caused his own fatal injuries when he was ejected from the vehicle because he was not wearing a seat belt.  Finally, the defense argued that the SUV rolled over due to the decedent’s over steering and braking of the vehicle in response to the rear right tire disablement as opposed to the failure of the right rear tire.

PRIOR SETTLEMENT OFFERS/DEMANDS:

Plaintiffs demanded $2 million; Land Rover Encino offered $150,000.

OUTCOME-DEFENSE VERDICT:

(As to Land Rover Encino) Jury trial began on April 24, 2008 and a defense verdict was reached on June 17, 2008.

Jury found Land Rover Encino’s negligence was not a substantial factor in causing harm to the plaintiffs and awarded a defense verdict in favor of Land Rover Encino.  Plaintiffs were awarded no damages.  Following post trial motions, Defendant, Land Rover Encino was awarded $178,000 in costs against Plaintiffs by the Court.