$3,400,000: Plaintiffs Collect $3,400,000 Settlement For Disputed Automobile V. Pedestrian Incident

$3,400,000: Plaintiffs Collect $3,400,000 Settlement For Disputed Automobile V. Pedestrian IncidentCASE DESCRIPTION: The plaintiff, John H, was struck by Defendant’s company vehicle while he was walking across Pacific Coast Highway, in Laguna Beach, in a marked crosswalk.  Terry H, John’s wife, brought a case for loss of consortium.

RESULT: $3,400,000

This litigation arose out of an incident that occurred on January 25, 2006, at approximately 6:40 p.m.  Plaintiff, John H, was walking in Laguna Beach, California.  As he approached the corner of Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and Pearl Street, he pressed the pedestrian crossing button.  The intersection at Pearl and PCH is controlled with flashing lights embedded in the roadway and a sign over the intersection that indicates to oncoming traffic that a pedestrian will be using the crosswalk.  After pressing the crosswalk button, and while the embedded lights were flashing, John began to cross PCH in the marked crosswalk.  Then, suddenly and without warning, John H was violently struck by a Ford Econoline van driven by Defendant, Lazlo J, who for unknown reasons failed to stop at the crosswalk limit line.  Lazlo J was employed by an appliance repair company, which owned the van, and was traveling to a job appointment.  Plaintiffs contended that Defendant was traveling at least 30-35 miles per hour at the point of impact, and the collision sent John H tumbling onto the hood of the van and eventually slamming onto the asphalt 15-20 feet down the road.   He was transported by ambulance to Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center.

PLAINTIFFS’ CONTENTIONS: Plaintiffs contend that Lazlo J failed to yield the right of way to John H who was crossing the street in a marked crosswalk which was controlled by flashing lights and a signal light indicating to traffic that a pedestrian is using the crosswalk.

DEFENDANT’S CONTENTIONS: Defendant contended that John was not properly crossing within the confines of the crosswalk at the time the incident occurred.  Defendant contended that John was in a state of intoxication at the time of injury that impaired his judgment. Defendant contended that the “flashing signals” that controlled the particular crosswalk were not flashing at the time of the incident.  Defendant also contended that John was not attentive and would bear significant comparative negligence at the time of the incident.

INTERESTING DETERMINATIVE FACTORS PROCURED DURING DISCOVERY: This automobile vs. pedestrian incident had three independent witnesses.  In the police report, two independent witnesses that were behind the company vehicle driven by defendant testified they did not see any “flashing” lights at the time of impact.  One of these witnesses also testified that the Plaintiff was outside the crosswalk at the time of the incident.  During deposition, these independent witnesses admitted they were unclear of such matters based on their vantage point at the time of the incident.  Plaintiff was also able to discover a third independent witness that was traveling in the opposite direction of travel of the defendant’s van who confirmed that the Plaintiff was in the confines of the intersection with the flashing lights illuminated.

Further, Plaintiff was able to establish through expert testimony and medical depositions that defendant had significant cataract eyesight problems on the night of the incident.  Defendant had been recommended to correct such issues prior to the incident.  These issues would cause blurry vision which were especially prominent at nighttime, when the incident occurred.  In fact, defendant had cataract surgery within six months post incident.

INJURIES: John H suffered multiple injuries to his head and facial structures, cervical injury, splenic rupture/fracture requiring spleen removal, intraabdominal hemorrhage, multiple injuries to abdomen area, diaphragmatic tear, ruptured pericardium, 3 left transverse process fracture, lumbar spine injury at L1 and L2, widening of the C7-T1 inter space, multiple extremity injuries including left elbow fracture and left knee dislocation, post traumatic tear of the left popliteal artery, atrial asthythmias, and blood loss resulting in anemia.  Plaintiffs also contended that John H had closed head injury symptoms.

FINAL RESULT: $3,400,000 (settled at second mediation)

MEDICAL SPECIALS: Past: $638,061.78
Future: $200,000.00

TYPE OF CASE: Personal Injury; Automobile v. Pedestrian; Loss of Consortium

DATE AND LOCATION: January 25, 2006 at about 6:45 p.m.; Pearl Street and Pacific Coast

Highway, Laguna Beach, California

AGE: John H, 68, Terry H, 65


Christopher R. Aitken

Edith Matthai and Ivan Mnatzaganian, Esq.

DEFENDANT’S INSURANCE COMPANY: The Hartford (Specialty Risk Services)