$443,248: Negligent Free Passengers Injured In T-Bone Collision In The Desert

CASE DESCRIPTION: Plaintiffs were passengers in a vehicle driven by James W and owned by Nicholas K that was struck by a vehicle driven by John C, when the vehicle in which Plaintiffs were riding attempted to make a left hand turn from Via Las Palmas, across oncoming traffic, and onto Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, California.

RESULT:  $443,248

PLAINTIFF’S CONTENTIONS: Plaintiffs contended that James W was primarily at fault for the collision for beginning the left hand turn across Palm Canyon Drive after failing to appreciate oncoming traffic, including John C.   Plaintiffs also contended that John C was partially at fault for causing the collision for speeding.

DEFENDANTS’ CONTENTIONS: Defendant John C, contended that James W was wholly at fault for pulling into his path of travel.   Defendants James W and Nicholas K contended that John C caused the accident by speeding, and switching lanes, such that he collided with the vehicle.  Defendants W and K further contended that Plaintiff James A was partially to blame for causing the collision by yelling “Don’t go!  Don’t go!” when Defendant W began to pull out onto Palm Canyon Drive, causing Defendant W to stop the vehicle in the lanes of traffic.  Defendants’ experts testified that Plaintiff A’s yelling caused Defendant W to stop the vehicle, and that reconstruction showed that had the vehicle not stopped within the lanes of oncoming traffic, it would have cleared the intersection without a collision.

TYPE OF CASE: Auto v. Auto

INJURIES: Gary H suffered a shoulder injury that was eventually diagnosed as a torn rotator cuff, requiring surgical repair.

James A suffered a delayed-onset pericardial effusion (fluid around the heart) which manifested itself approximately two to three weeks following the collision, and resolved itself just prior to surgical intervention.

Defendants claimed that Plaintiff H’s shoulder injury was a result of chronic degeneration, and was not caused by the trauma of the collision.  Defendants further alleged that Plaintiff A’s pericardial effusion was caused by a viral infection, and was not related to the chest trauma he sustained in the collision.   The defendants’ experts testified that there have been only two or three cases of traumatically induced, delayed-onset, pericardial effusion ever reported in the medical literature.

DATE & LOCATION OF INCIDENT:  December 29, 2005, at the intersection of Via Las Palmas and Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, California

PLAINTIFFS’ AGE: James A, 56; Gary H, 59

OCCUPATION: Real Estate (both)

Darren O. Aitken, Esq.
Casey R. Johnson, Esq.
For Plaintiffs – James A and Gary H

Jay McClaugherty, Esq.
LindaHamlin, Esq.
For Defendants – James W and Nicholas K

Kevin M. McGowen, Esq.
Law Offices of Kevin M. McGowen

For Defendant – John C
Larry Peterson, Esq.
For Cross-Defendant – James A