Injured Dentist Fails to Get Jury Award Increased

A Compton dentist who claimed that a Los Angeles Superior Court judge awarded him $270,000 less than intended by a jury has failed to get the award increased.

Judge Thomas Johnson recently denied a motion by Theodore Shirley to throw out the old award of $547,000 and replace it with a $816,500 judgment.

Shirley, who lost his dental practice after his hand was injured in a fight with a bill collector in 1982, argued that the jury verdict in May specified that he should receive the larger amount.

The judge, however, ruled that the $547,000 judgment "properly reflects the intentions of the jury."

The jury found, according to court transcripts, that total damages suffered by Shirley "as a legal result of the conduct of defendants" were $816,500. But the jury assigned two-thirds of the blame for the incident to the defendants, Associates Financial Services Co. and its bill collector, and one-third to Shirley.

Shirley contended that his share of the blame was calculated before the $816,500 statement of damages was entered, but the judge ruled the amount should be reduced by one-third before payment.

Shirley, who is now a law student, said he will receive less than $300,000 once attorneys' fees and other expenses are deducted. A $60,000 home mortgage claim by Associates Financial is also pending, he said.

Shirley testified that his right index finger was sprained when the bill collector shoved him against a wall in his office after he refused to speak to a mortgage company manager on the telephone. The sprain never healed, Shirley testified, making it impossible for him to work as a dentist.

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