CASE DESCRIPTION: The plaintiffs while riding in a pedicab were struck by the defendant who was leaving a parade. Plaintiffs claim that the pedicab did not take all safety precautions expected from a common carrier.
RESULT: $1,315,000.00 total settlement
On July 26, 2003, Plaintiffs Gail H. and Adele S. attended the San Diego Pride Festival in Balboa Park, San Diego. At approximately 3:30 p.m., Plaintiffs left the festival and decided to take a pedicab ride from the festival location at the southern section of Balboa Park (Mariner’s Point), to return them to their vehicle, which was parked at 3rd Avenue and Washington Street in the Hillcrest/Mission Hills section of San Diego.
Plaintiffs boarded a pedicab, owned and operated by Frank S. (d/b/a SoCal Pedicabs) at 6th Avenue and Juniper Street. Frank proceeded to 5th Avenue, made a right hand turn into the number three (#3) lane of traffic on 5th Avenue and began heading north on 5th Avenue toward the location of their vehicle. In this area, 5th Avenue is a three-lane, one way street with a speed limit of thirty (30) miles per hour.
As Frank S. continued to operate the pedicab northbound on 5th Avenue, Frank maneuvered the pedicab from the #3 lane (far right hand) into the center, or #2 lane of traffic. At that point, Frank was operating the pedicab at a speed of only between three (3) and five (5) miles per hour in the middle lane of 5th Avenue.
After traveling in the center lane of traffic for 30 seconds to one minute, Frank began maneuvering the pedicab into the #1 (far left) lane of traffic. Before Frank could completely transition the pedicab into the fast lane of traffic, the pedicab was struck by an automobile driven by Robert C., who was uninsured and driving on a suspended license.
The impact from the collision sent Plaintiffs flying through the air and onto the 5th Avenue roadway.
Plaintiffs contend that Frank S., the owner and operator of the pedicab, was a contributing cause of the incident, by failing to ride “as close as practicable” to the left or ride had side of one-way street as required of bicycles by Vehicle Code section 21202.
Plaintiffs’ further contend that SoCal Pedicabs was a common carrier and therefore owed Plaintiffs the utmost duty of care. As such, Plaintiffs’ contend that Defendants were further liable for operating the bicycle-cab in the center lane of traffic for an extended period of time at 3-5 miles per hour (walking speed).
Plaintiffs also contend that Defendants SoCal Pedicabs failed to equip the pedicab with devices to increase the pedicabs visibility to motorists, despite knowledge of the availability of such devices, and use thereof in other jurisdictions. Plaintiffs’ contend that the pedicab was not properly visible to motorists, as confirmed by an eyewitness who passed the pedicab just moments before the collision, and testified that “I was in the left lane and as I passed the buggy I just said a little prayer, because I was so shocked to see that pedicab there. If I had been in the middle lane, I felt I would have hit it.”
Defendants contended that Robert C., the uninsured motorist that struck the pedicab, was the sole cause of the incident. Defendants intended on presenting testimony at trial confirming that Robert C.: (1) was incarcerated for pleading guilty to felony hit and run as a result of the collision; (2) had consumed several alcoholic beverages prior to the collision; (3) had pled guilty to driving under the influence less than two years prior to the collision; (4) was driving with a suspended license at the time of the collision, due his previous DUI; and (5) was driving a vehicle with known mechanical problems.
TYPE OF CASE: Auto v. Pedicab
For Adele S. – Closed head injury with residual traumatic seizure disorder, right temporal epidural hematoma, requiring a surgical craniotomy, fractured right clavicle, fractured right scapula.
For Gail H. – Closed head injury, right pelvic wing fracture, C-2 compression fracture, lacerations.
DATE & LOCATION OF INCIDENT: On 7/26/03 on 5th Ave. just south of Robinson in the City of San Diego.
Adele S. – 37 at the time of the incident.
Gail H. – 52 at the time of the incident.
Richard A. Cohn & Casey R. Johnson
AITKEN * AITKEN * COHN
For Plaintiff – Adele S. and Gail H.
RYAN, MERCALDO & WORTHINGTON
For Defendant –SoCal Pedicabs, Frank S. and Robert C.
PLAINTIFFS’ INSURANCE CO.: For Adele S. – State Farm
For Gale H. – Nationwide Mutual Insurance
DEFENDANT INSURANCE CO.: For SoCal Pedicab – Diamond State Ins. Co.