Gaylord v. Thure Los Angeles Superior Court

Plaintiff was a 54 year-old former member of a local archery club who had worked overseas for several years. After moving back to California, he went riding his motorcycle one day near the club, where he decided to drop by to determine whether he would rejoin it. The club was not open at the time. He went barreling down a dirt road formerly used for stations on an archery course.

Unfortunately, plaintiff found a steel cable strung across the road near the property boundary by the adjacent landowner who wanted to prevent entry onto his property. Plaintiff’s motorcycle’s front tire hit the cable, causing the cable to fly upward and to strike plaintiff just below his nose, knocking him out, and causing a laceration requiring several stitches. The force of the impact with the cable also fractured his palate, causing a malocclusion, knocked out one tooth and broke two others. Medical specials were $4,000.00. Defendant offered $40,000.00 but plaintiff demanded $50,000.00.

Plaintiff’s claim that he was riding his motorcycle at the club for the purpose of deciding whether he would rejoin it seemed highly suspicious, and could well have been simply to avoid the immunity of a landowner for simple negligence under California law when the landowner allows property to be used for recreational purposes.

The jury returned a verdict of $5,000.00. Given the previous $7,500.00 settlement with the adjacent landowner, however, plaintiff netted nothing.

A humorous point in the trial occurred when plaintiff testified that he rarely smiled any more because the damage to his upper lip kept him from doing so. He looked at the jury and said, wistfully, that people used to say he had a nice smile–apparently not realizing that he was smiling broadly at the time.

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