Penile Amputation and Wrongful Death, Castaneda v. State of California, Los Angeles Superior Court, $1,735,000 Jury Verdict

Civil Rights/Medical Malpractice

Conal Doyle obtained a $1,735,557 jury verdict on November 10, 2010 on behalf of the family of Francisco Castaneda, a state prisoner who died because the State of California refused to provide him a biopsy to rule out penile cancer during his four month detention. The suit was brought by Mr. Castaneda’s 17 year old daughter, Vanessa Castaneda. Prior to trial, the State offered $10,000 to settle the claim, and disputed liability, causation, and damages. During trial, Mr. Doyle asked the jury to return a verdict of $1,500,000 in non-economic damages and $235,557 for past medical bills.

After deliberating for less than four hours, the jury returned a verdict for the exact amount requested, which was 170 times the pre-trial defense offer. The amount of the verdict was not reduced due to comparative fault and is not subject to California’s medical malpractice tort reform act (“MICRA”), and is 100% collectible.

The Daily Journal, California’s daily legal newspaper, recognized Castaneda v. State of California as one of California’s Top 10 most impactful verdicts of 2010. The Castaneda verdict was ranked third in impact, behind only the verdicts striking down the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and Proposition 8, the California ban on gay marriage. The Castaneda verdict was recognized for its impact on improving the medical care system for immigration detainees.

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