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Forensic Psychology: Civil Litigation

  • For the last thirty-three years, Dr. LaCalle has been retained in over a thousand cases involving civil litigation, including personal injury, wrongful death, Workers' Compensation, third party liability, immigration evaluations, Social Security evaluations, probates, etc. Both plaintiff and defense litigating parties, have retained him. In his early years of practice, plaintiffs or applicants retained him more often, while in recent years, defense attorneys and insurance companies have retained him quite frequently.  Dr. LaCalle does not accept liens or contingency fees. 
     
  • In his evaluations, Dr. LaCalle conducts thorough clinical interviews; reviews records; holds collateral interviews with significant witnesses; conducts socio-cultural investigations, when appropriate; and administers psychological tests, if needed. In some cases he has traveled to Mexico and other Latino-American countries, to obtain relevant bio-psycho-cultural information not otherwise available and information that, at times , is indispensable to the outcome of the litigation.   
     
  • He pays close attention to the referral issues, which, over the years, have usually included assessment of emotional damages, review of previous psychiatric-psychological evaluations, assessment of need for treatment and appropriateness of the previously provided treatment, evaluation of pre-existent psychiatric conditions, malingering, false identities and psychological autopsies.
     
  • Dr. LaCalle has been retained in several wrongful death cases involving Hispanic victims to assess the emotional damages, future economic damages, and deprivation of future care of the parents of the victim, within a specific cultural framework. 
     
  • In the majority of these cases, litigation is resolved without trial. In those cases, Dr. LaCalle prepares timely forensic reports addressing the referral questions. In quite a few instances, he has been called for consultations with attorneys, participation in "round table" preparation of cases, consultation for jury selection, witness assessment and preparation, depositions, and court testimony. 

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Sample Cases

Frequently, the work of Dr. LaCalle  is confidential, and unless called upon
 to testify or otherwise make his testimony public,  his work remains
 confidential after the settlement. The following are few sample cases. 
 All are public record:
 

  • Amezcua vs  xx et al.

A wrongful death case. On Christmas Day 2000, the toddler Amezcua fell from the 7th floor of his apartment building into the well of a malfunctioning elevator and was found dead several hours later, after a frantic search for the child throughout San Francisco that attracted the attention of the media.  It became known as "the tragedy of the Chrismas baby."  The Amezcua family sued the apartment complex owner and the elevator's manufacturer. 

Dr. LaCalle clinically evaluated the members of the Amezcua family to assess their emotional damage and, if any, their pain and suffering. He also conducted a socio-cultural investigation and assessment.  In his detailed report, he dealt with an important cultural issue: the primary role the oldest son plays in a typical working class Mexican family: the son is considered the "retirement security" of his parents, since he is the oldest son who is principally responsible for caring for his aging parents.  This cultural difference became a very relevant issue in the Amezcuas' damage claims and significantly affected the sizeable amount of the negotiated settlement.

  • Iyola vs Arnette, Los Angeles, Ca.
     

   Mr Iyola, an African native, was involved in a car accident. His claims of
   injuries were well beyond what could be expected of an otherwise minor
   rear- end collision. Claiming that his life was ruined, as well as were his 
   chances of becoming a medical doctor in the USA, he demanded a very
   substantial compensation in accordance with his claims. A highly 
   questionable Psychological Report by a "Beverly Hills " psychologist,
   retained by the plaintiff's attorney, attempted to give credibility to 
   Mr. Iyola's claims.  

   Dr. LaCalle was retained by the Defense to evaluate Mr. Iyola, review 
   the large dossier of records, and asses the validity of the plaintiff
   psychologist's  findings.  In trial, all the claims were disallowed., with 
   the exception of some reasonable initial medical bills. 
 

  • Godinez vs. Pajara Valley School District, California
     

   Dr. LaCalle was retained as Independent Medical Examiner, to asses 
   emotional damages to a minor and her parents.  A  six year old 
   Hispanic girl was sexually assaulted by
an allegedly deranged  man
   on the school grounds  during school time. The child was evaluated,
   mostly in regard to lasting emotional damages, the parents were
   interviewed and an extensive report was issued. The case was settled 
   out of court.
 

  • Redondo vs. City of Los Angeles
     

   A Mexican-American male sued L.A. Police  for an alleged violation
   of his civil rights, false arrest, and physical assault by the police that
   resulted in severe injuries requiring hospitalization. After L.A. Police
   learned of the suit, they filed felony assault charges against Mr. Redondo.

   Dr. LaCalle was retained by plaintiff  to asses emotional damages. 
 

  • Galan vs. Hilton, California


   A Salvadorian female was repeatedly sexually harassed at work by
   co-workers, Mexican nationals. She reported the harassment on several
   occasions without results. Dr. LaCalle was retained by the plaintiff 
   to assess emotional damages and the need for treatment. 
 

  • Ventura vs. University of California 
     

   A 4-year-old, Salvadorian-American minor was evaluated and tested,
   twice  in the span of two years, to assess damages and report progress
   if any.  Dr. LaCalle was retained by defendants, to review and assess the
   evaluations  made by the plaintiff's mental health experts.  The child's
   parents filed a malpractice suit against  the UC Hospital where the child
   was born, claiming that their child was permanently damaged by the
   deficient medical care he received in the hospital neo-natal center. Their
   claims included Organic Brain Syndrome,  Mental Retardation,
   Developmental and learning deficiencies. The case settled just before
  
trial. 

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