$9M: Motorcyclist Injured by Paving Contractor Truck

Michael and Rosanna S. v. Southern California Paving Contractor

SETTLEMENT AMOUNT:

Global $9,000,000

DATE OF SETTLEMENT:

March 1, 2019            

CASE DESCRIPTION:

On the date of this incident, Mr. Juan Manuel Campos was employed by Defendant Southern California Paving Contractor to work as a “cement finisher” at a worksite located on the 710 Freeway.  Mr. Campos was not actually compensated for his time until he began his work on the 710 freeway.  Rather than having Mr. Campos go directly to the 710 worksite, however, Southern California Paving Contractor regularly required Mr. Campos to detour from his home to the Southern California Paving Contractor yard to pick up a Southern California Paving Contractor 2-ton F-650 commercial truck, co-employees and other necessary work tools, and then drive that truck and his fellow employees to the 710 worksite variously described also as the job site, the place of work, work place, site of the work and construction work site.  The transportation of workers and equipment to the Southern California Paving Contractor worksite clearly was a direct benefit to Southern California Paving Contractor even though it did not pay Mr. Campos for the extra time and effort it required of him.  If Mr. Campos had been allowed by Southern California Paving Contractor to proceed directly from home to the 710 where his compensated work occurred, that would have been arguably a “normal” commute outside of the bounds of vicarious liability.  By requiring Mr. Campos to detour to the Southern California Paving Contractor yard, however, solely for the purposes of transporting men and material to the worksite with he at the helm of a two ton truck for which he received training for Southern California Paving Contractor’s benefit, Southern California Paving Contractor sent Mr. Campos on a business errand for which it is legally responsible.

Juan Manual Campos struck and seriously and permanently injured Plaintiff Michael S. as he was turning into the So  uthern California Paving Contractor yard on the evening of October 7, 2010. Campos, an employee of Defendant Southern California Paving Contractor, was executing a left turn in his personal pickup into the yard when he struck Michael S.’s motorcycle (lawfully traveling in the #1 opposite lane) virtually head on, massively and almost fatally injuring plaintiff.

Because Campos’ actual worksite that evening was not the Southern California Paving Contractor’s yard, but rather out along the SR 710 freeway in Los Angeles County (where Campos served as a cement finisher), he was not simply going “to and from” his place of employment, but, rather, he was going to the Southern California Paving Contractor yard solely for the benefit of his employer before being “on the clock”, in order to pick up a Southern California Paving Contractor truck in which he was regularly required to drive himself, other Southern California Paving Contractor employees and their necessary work equipment to the “job site” (on the SR 710 freeway).

Plaintiffs simply stated that even though Southern California Paving Contractor did not pay Campos until he arrived at the SR 710 job site (thus going “on the clock” at  9:00 p.m. for this CalTrans job), his earlier, job-required trip to the Southern California Paving Contractor yard was a “business errand” strictly for the benefit of his employer, Southern California Paving Contractor.     Mr. Campos was required to be at the Southern California Paving Contractor yard before 8:00 p.m., to pick up a truck he was required to use in his work on the 710 freeway, and then to drive that truck to the work site to transport other employee(s) to the site.

Southern California Paving Contractor brought a Motion for Summary Judgement on this matter that was ultimately overruled by the Court of Appeal. The Superior Court thus erred in two significant respects in granting summary judgement in favor of Southern California Paving Contractor: (1) by its misapplication of the rules of law governing the “going and coming” rule, excluding application of the “special errand” rule; and (2) by concluding that this issue was purely a matter of law, rather than a question of fact for the jury to decide. Ultimately, the California Court of Appeal overturned the decision of the trial court in an unanimous published opinion. See 10 Cal.App. 5th 961.   

Campos was required to go to the Southern California Paving Contractor yard on a regular basis for the benefit of his employer, to take a detour to the Southern California Paving Contractor yard, pick up a company truck and then drive it, and his fellow employees, to the actual SR 710 work site; all without pay or compensation, and based thereon to further conclude that Campos was on a “special errand” at the time of this tragic accident and Southern California Paving Contractor should not be immunized from any vicarious liability under the “going and coming” rule.

COUNTY:  ORANGE COUNTY

CITY:   CITY OF STANTON

COMPLETE TITLE OF PLAINTIFF(S):  Michael and Rosanna S.

COMPLETE TITLE OF DEFENDANT(S):  Southern California Paving Contractor (actual name confidential per agreement) 

TYPE OF CASE:  Auto v. Motorcycle, Course & Scope

PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEYS:

Wylie A. Aitken, Esq.

Megan G. Demshki, Esq.

AITKEN AITKENCOHN

John C. Adams, Esq.

HUNT & ADAMS

DEFENDANT’S ATTORNEYS:  Confidential per settlement agreement

DATE/TIME OF INCIDENT:  October 7, 2010 at approx. 7:30pm

WHERE:  Western Ave. in Stanton, CA

OCCUPATION:   Mr. S was a Network Engineer

PLAINTIFF’S CONTENTIONS AS TO LIABILITY:

DEFENDANT’S CONTENTIONS AS TO LIABILITY:

PLAINTIFF’S INJURIES:

  • Severe multiple facial and head injuries.
  • Cervical trauma with residual restricted motion and possible radiculopathy.
  • Right shoulder dislocation and subsequent frozen shoulder successfully treated surgically.
  • Residual right shoulder pain with underlying posttraumatic AC arthritis and bicep tendinitis.
  • Status post open severely comminuted intra-articular distal radius and ulna fracture treated with open reduction and internal fixation.
  • Residual restricted motion with posttraumatic radiocarpal arthritis and radioulnar arthritis.
  • Multiple intracarpal fractures with resultant posttraumatic carpal arthritis.
  • Multiple carpal metacarpal fractures with resultant posttraumatic arthritis.
  • Status post carpal tunnel release to decompress severely traumatized and swelling wrist and hand. No residual median nerve neuropathy detected.
  • Bilateral nondisplaced acetabular fractures with residual restricted motion and pain in left hip, likely, posttraumatic arthritis left hip.
  • Left ischial pubic ramus fracture without residual.
  • Left knee status post lateral tibial plateau fracture with residual catching, probable meniscal or other articular cartilage injuries.
  • Left fibular neck fracture, healed, with localized discomfort otherwise no residuals.
  • Left anterior tibia abrasion/contusion with residual hypersensitivity localized.
  • Left ankle and foot multiple trauma with calcaneal fracture at the calcaneocuboid joint with residual discomfort.
  • Additional neurologic, ophthalmologic, ENT, facial, pulmonary, gastrointestinal, and urologic injuries outside of the scope of orthopedic surgical injuries.

SETTLEMENT NEGOTIATIONS:

The matter mutually resolved at a Mandatory Settlement Conference for $9,000,000.

MEDICAL SPECIALS:  Michael S. $659,152.03

SUBMITTED BY:

Wylie A. Aitken, Esq.

Megan G. Demshki, Esq.

Aitken Aitken Cohn