Auto Accident – Woman Injured After Father Falls Asleep at the Wheel- 13400000.0000
Cole v. Henry
Jury awards $13.4 million to woman injured when her father fell asleep
at the wheel and crashed truck during cross-country trip. The jury award
was the largest personal injury verdict in Sonoma County history.
On June 1, 2011, Angie Cole, age 28, and her father, Henry, a State Farm
insured, were driving across country from North Carolina to California
in a rental truck, hauling a trailer with a car on it. Henry was transporting
furniture and personal goods to his home in California. He had invited
his daughter to come along with him to share his company and driving responsibilities.
In the early morning hours of June 3, near Flagstaff, Arizona, as Angie
was sleeping in the front passenger seat, Henry fell asleep at the wheel.
The truck veered left at 70 mph, crossed two oncoming traffic lanes, and
plowed into the Mojave Desert. Lead counsel Cynthia McGuinn says, “This
case highlights the dangers associated with fatigued driving and the responsibilities
all drivers have to ensure they are fit to drive.”
Henry was able to extricate himself and stumble from the wreckage. Angie,
who knew she had suffered a severe back injury, remained belted in the
cab until an ambulance arrived some forty minutes later. Angie was taken
by ambulance to a local hospital which was ill-equipped to handle an injury
of this magnitude, so Angie was transported by helicopter to Sunrise Medical
Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Angie sustained a comminuted vertebral burst fracture of her spine requiring
surgical repair and fusion. She subsequently developed severe infections,
requiring an additional surgery. Ultimately a third surgery was performed
to remove the plates and screws in her spine as it was believed that might
be the source of the ongoing infection.
The trauma to Angie’s spine, caused by the fractures, the infections,
and repeated surgical procedures at the site, resulted in the development
of a mixed pain syndrome requiring a fourth surgery: the surgical implantation
a spinal cord stimulator, a device which helps to diminish, but not fully
control, ongoing pain. When it was discovered that Angie’s initial
spinal fusion had never been achieved and her spine was collapsing, a
fifth, complex spinal fusion operation was performed at UCSF.
Today, Angie is improved, but remains presently disabled from work. She
hopes to return to part time employment soon, but will require lifetime
After a trial spanning two months, the hardworking Sonoma County jury disagreed,
and awarded Angie $6.4 million in economic damages and $7 million for
her noneconomic damages – a $13.4 million verdict.
Cab and Shuttle Bus Accident on Freeway- 3700000.0000
Doe and others v. Yellow Cab Cooperative, Inc.
Four United Airlines employees got off work at San Francisco International
Airport. An airport shuttle bus was taking the four employees from the
airport terminal to the employee parking lot. The bus was traveling behind
a Yellow Cab as it entered the on-ramp for U.S. 101 north. While approaching
the highway, the Yellow Cab driver saw a woman, off to the side of the
on-ramp, and thought she might be a potential fare. The cab driver slammed
on his brakes and stopped his cab in the middle of the on-ramp, about
20 feet before it merged with the freeway.
The bus driver did not notice the cab was stopping in the middle of the
on-ramp. Once he realized the cab was stopping, he slammed on his brakes,
causing the passengers to come out of their seats. The shuttle bus hit
the back of the taxi, causing minimal damage to both vehicles.
One individual suffered a broken ankle and was off work for about four
months. The three other individuals returned to work after a couple of
days. As time progressed, each of the other individuals noticed their
injuries were not healing and sought medical treatment. Each sustained
permanent medical injuries and limitations in their ability to perform
The case tried to verdict. The defendant honored the jury’s decision,
accepted the verdict, and did not file a frivolous appeal.
$3.7 million jury verdict
Collision Injury – Broken Kneecap Exacerbates Knee Injury- 625000.0000
Jane Doe v. Defendant Driver
Jane Doe was driving westbound on Walnut Creek’s Treat Boulevard
in the slow lane. Jane drove forward into the intersection on a solid
green light. As Jane moved into the intersection, Defendant Driver, driving
a large late-model Oldsmobile 98, ran the red light and made a left turn
from eastbound Treat Boulevard directly into the path of Jane Doe’s
car. The resulting collision caused Jane’s car to veer to the right,
hit a stopped car, and slam into a light pole. Defendant was 83 years
old at the time of the crash. She acknowledged her full responsibility
for the collision and stopped driving after the collision.
Jane was 53 years old at the time of the collision. Both knees hit the
dashboard, fracturing her right kneecap and exacerbating pre-existing
LEGAL THEORIES AND STRATEGIES
This was a damages-only case with less than $20,000 in medical expenses
and no significant wage-loss component. Our firm argued that the fractured
kneecap was a significant injury. The defense argued that Jane made a
very good recovery and that she had significant pre-existing knee problems.
Car Accident Injury – Defective Seat Exacerbates Back Injury in Rear-End Collision- 2100000.0000
Ron Roe v. Black Repair Shop and Defendant Driver
Ron Roe was a 46-year-old seat-belted passenger in his late model SUV when
the cars in front of him braked suddenly for an animal crossing the road.
Roe’s wife, who was driving the SUV, was able to come to a complete
stop without hitting the car in front of them. Defendant Driver, who was
inattentive and traveling too close behind Roe’s SUV, was unable
to stop in time. His car rear-ended Roe’s vehicle at roughly 11-12
mph. Roe’s seat detached from the seat bracket on the right side,
exacerbating a pre-existing back injury. The pain medications Roe was
required to take disqualified Roe from his job as an air traffic controller
and he ultimately took early retirement as a result of the incident. Roe
was ultimately told that he would need a spinal fusion. Roe’s wife
was not injured in the crash.
Before the incident, Roe had repairs done to the SUV’s passenger
seat at Black Repair Shop. After the repairs were completed, Roe noted
movement in the seat. He took the SUV back to the repair shop on two different
occasions for repairs but they were unable to fix the problem. After the
incident, an investigation revealed that the repair shop had not replaced
two of the nuts on right side of the seat bracket. The missing nuts allowed
the front right corner of the seat to come up off the studs. This defeated
the SUV’s integrated safety system made up of the seat belt, seat,
seat back, and passive restraints. As a result, Roe’s spine suffered
compression and torsional forces that it would not have sustained if the
seat was properly repaired.
LEGAL THEORIES AND STRATEGIES
Investigation into the incident indicated that while Defendant Driver was
a cause of injury, the major cause of the injury was Black Repair Shop.
We firm retained engineers and an accident reconstructionist, obtained
two exemplar seats, and filmed destructive testing that proved this theory.
Black Repair Shop’s counsel focused on Defendant Driver’s negligence
and on the fact that Roe had lumbar decompression surgery two years before
the incident. The surgery was to the L4 nerve root, the exact area where
Roe claimed problems from this incident. Medical records demonstrated
that Roe remained essentially pain free for the two years before this accident.
The defense was shown a multimedia presentation of the seat testing results
at a second mediation. The seat testing demonstrated extensive seat movement
in an exemplar seat missing the nuts when it was subjected to the same
force as the crash. This was juxtaposed against an exemplar seat with
the nuts, also subjected to the same force. The exemplar seat did not
move when force was applied.
The case settled for $2.1 million shortly before trial.
Crush Injury – Verdict for Woman Whose Fingers were Crushed in Car Accident- 2400000.0000
Jane Doe v. Acme Transport
Jane Doe’s left hand was injured when Acme Transport’s employee
ran a red light at an intersection and broadsided Doe’s car. Doe’s
window was down and Doe’s fingers became caught between the doorjamb
and pavement when the vehicle tipped over. The crush injured the tops
of her fingers and resulted in some functional impairment and chronic
pain. Doe, who is right-handed, was unable to return to work and was involuntarily
terminated from her job when her Family Medical Leave ran out in March 2006.
LEGAL THEORIES AND STRATEGIES
Shortly before trial, Acme admitted it caused the collision but asserted
that Doe failed to mitigate her damages because she had not returned to
work. Doe’s medical restriction from work arguably ended in July
2006. Acme further argued that Doe had not had any real medical care or
treatment since January 2007. Contending that Doe’s decision to
return to school instead of obtaining a job was a lifestyle choice, Acme
focused its case on Doe’s decision not to return to work.
McGuinn and Cooper, Doe’s attorneys, were asked to substitute into
the case two months before it was initially set for trial. After winning
court orders to add experts in orthopedics, pain management, economics
and life-care planning, Doe served a formal Offer to Compromise for Acme’s
$1 million insurance policy limits. Acme’s offer was $250,000 up
until ten days before trial, when Acme served its own formal offer for
$800,000. The case was tried for four weeks in Santa Rosa, California.
$2.4 million judgment, including a $2.1 million jury verdict, prevailing
party costs and interest from the date of service of Doe’s formal
Offer to Compromise.
Elderly Injury – Cab Runs Red Light Injuring Elderly Couple- 575000.0000
The Does v. Arrow Cab Co.
John and Jane Doe, an elderly couple, were driving on Pine Street in San
Francisco when an Arrow Cab ran a red light, crashing into their car.
Jane Doe was knocked unconscious and suffered a neck injury. Her husband,
in addition to being put in fear for his own life, witnessed his wife’s
injuries. The cab driver claimed that the cab’s brakes failed.
LEGAL THEORIES AND STRATEGIES
Despite the cab driver’s statement that the brakes failed, Arrow
Cab accepted legal responsibility for the incident. A motion for preference
based on the Does’ age and health, was granted. The case settled
at the beginning of expert discovery.
Illegal Car Rental – Drunk Driver Causes Fatal Accident- 5700000.0000
John Doe v. Black Corp.
Late at night, a Toyota Camry traveling at 90 miles per hour on U.S. 101,
north of San Francisco International Airport, hit another car. The Camry
spun out of control and crashed into a concrete support column. The 21-year-old
driver, John Smith, was driving without a license, drunk, and high on
cocaine. The impact killed John Smith. His 20 year-old passenger John
Doe suffered numerous fractures and traumatic brain injury.
Smith was an employee of Black Corporation a car sales, repair, and rental
business. A co-worker at Black Corporation rented the car to Smith. Black
Corporation provided employees with cars in violation of the California
Vehicle Code. Black Corporation repeatedly rented cars to John Smith even
though he was under the age of 25. The Black Corporation rental-managing
agent conspired with John Smith to have his mother rent the car under
her name. The managing agent stated she only had to come down the first
time, and that Smith could rent the car using his mother's information
LEGAL THEORIES AND STRATEGIES
The California Vehicle Code requires a rental company to confirm that the
person that they are renting to possesses a valid driver's license.
Had Black Corporation done so, they would have learned that Smith's
license was suspended. Black Corporation was also aware Smith had a history
of drug and alcohol abuse and reckless driving. He was caught smoking
marijuana at work, and the general manager of Black Corporation observed
John Smith and his friends doing drugs at an office party. Smith had also
previously damaged a Black Corporation rental car.
John Doe's injuries were so extensive that he will require 24-hour
attendant care for the rest of his life and will never work again.
$5.7 million settlement
Mother breaks neck and dies in car accident with her sons in car- 3870000.0000
The Penado Family v. Molex, Inc. and Regina Litz
Evelyn Penado, 39, a childcare provider, was riding in a car driven by
one of her sons, with another son also in the car. Their car stayed right
in its lane as the lane widened, in order to merge onto the entrance ramp
to Interstate 280 in San Francisco. Regina Litz was ahead of the Penados
and kept left in the same southbound lane until just before the split.
Near the entrance ramp, Litz moved to her right and cut off the Penado vehicle.
There was no contact between the vehicles, but to avoid a collision, Franklin
swerved, lost control of his car and hit the crash barrels that divided
the ramp from the roadway. His mother Evelyn's neck broke, and she
died on impact.
Evelyn's widower and four children sued Litz and Litz's employer,
Molex Inc. (which owned the car she was driving at the time of the accident)
for the loss of their wife and mother and for the horror of seeing her die.
LEGAL THEORIES AND STRATEGIES
The Penado family claimed Litz negligently failed to check whether any
cars were approaching on her right, and made an unsafe turning movement
toward the Penado car.
$3.87 million settlement
Motor Scooter v. Truck Driver- 3700000.0000
This hit and run truck collision left the 42-year-old plaintiff with severe,
debilitating injuries. The incident occurred at the intersection of Airport
Blvd. and Highway 101 in South San Francisco, CA. Defendant truck driver
made a left hand turn on a red light. The plaintiff, riding a motor scooter,
was proceeding straight with a green light. Plaintiff suffered a direct
hit when the defendant’s truck T-boned him as it sped through the
red light. The plaintiff was ejected from his scooter.
At the time of the incident, the defendant truck driver, was an employee
of a construction company and was driving the company vehicle, a Ford
F-250 pick-up truck. The defendant driver was on his way home with the
truck owned by his employer after working all day. Defendant driver was
taking the truck home because he needed his tools at the job site early
the next morning. Plaintiff contended that the defendant truck driver
was using the company truck with permission, and in the course and scope
of his employment at the time of this incident.
Insurance policy language has been liberally construed by the courts in
favor of finding permissive use to bring the “shield of insurance”
to those innocent victims who might be injured in auto accidents. Moreover,
the defendant driver’s history of prior use of the company vehicle
also demonstrated that he was in fact using the vehicle in the course
and scope of his employment at the time of this incident.
Plaintiff was taken to the hospital with multiple injuries including abdominal
injuries, left chest rib fractures complicated by pneumothorax (collapsed
lung), spinal fractures, multiple pelvis fractures, and bilateral upper
and lower extremity fractures. His long hospital course was further complicated
by acute hypoxic respiratory failure, acute blood loss causing anemia,
and pain control. Plaintiff required significant future medical care including
two surgeries to lengthen the deformity in his left leg where he suffered
three separate fractures. Additionally, plaintiff’s future medical
care included right wrist surgery to repair the fused ulnar and radius
bones, and improve range of motion, and knee surgery. Plaintiff’s
experts opined that as a result of the plaintiff’s injuries he would
have chronic pain, and reduced range of motion in his cervical spine,
left leg, right grip, left shoulder, right forearm and right wrist, as
well as extensive arthritis.
Past medical expenses were $747,000. The present cash value of the plaintiff’s
future medical expenses was $255,000. Plaintiff’s physicians further
opined that as a result of the plaintiff’s injuries, he could not
continue to meet the physical requirements of his job. As a result, the
plaintiff could only work part-time hours, and he would lose wages and
benefits in the future. The plaintiff’s past wage loss for the nine
months he missed from work was $25,875, and his loss of earning capacity
and loss of medical and other benefits was $482,027.
The case was settled through private mediation for $3,700,000.
Race Track Accident – Faulty Safety System Kills Driver
March v. Baylands
Robert March, 39, was killed during a timing run of the Nitro Fire drag
race after his dragster shot through a safety net and a sand barrier at
Baylands Raceway. The car, which was traveling 100 mph, slammed into a
4-foot high dirt wall. March had raced cars for about 20 years before
this incident. He apparently lost control of his dragster when the throttle
LEGAL THEORIES AND STRATEGIES
The operators of the racetrack failed to install adequate safety restraints
and barriers on its premises to prevent motor vehicles from striking a
fixed wall. The wall the dragster hit had been erected several weeks before
March’s wife, who witnessed the incident, sued the racetrack, contending
the accident could have been prevented. Elaine March alleged that the
owner of the Fremont race track failed to provide adequate safety devices.