Plaintiff vs. Trucking Company San Luis Obispo Superior Court
Plaintiff was a 15 year-old boy with an extreme case of ADHD. His parents had little control of him and he even committed assaults from time to time against his mother.
On the day of the incident, he and two friends left their high school early that morning and decided to get to the other side of U. S. 101 by climbing a fence and crossing the road, rather than use the pedestrian tunnel underneath the highway. Using the tunnel made them more observable by police who occasionally patrolled the area looking for truants.
Plaintiff’s two friends crossed the limited access highway. Because plaintiff caught his backpack on the fence, however, he was delayed for several seconds. Without looking, he ran straight into the lanes of traffic and did not see the defendant trucking company’s bobtail tractor (a “semi” without a trailer) until it was almost literally an arm’s length away.
The bobtail tractor driver said that he applied his brakes and did his best to avoid the collision. Nevertheless, he wound up with the bobtail tractor on its side, causing serious, disabling injuries to himself in the process.
Plaintiff’s case was based on the claim that the truck driver had the opportunity to see the first two boys crossing the road well in advance and he should have also seen plaintiff as he was about to cross the road. Had he only braked sooner, he could have avoided the accident.
As might be expected, plaintiff received life-threatening injuries in the impact. He suffered a brain injury that resulted in an almost complete loss of his short term memory and was a right sided hemi-paraplegic. He was left with speech deficits and massive orthopedic injuries that reduced him to taking one six-inch step every few seconds when moving across a room. There was no doubt that this unfortunate plaintiff would require a life care plan with daily supervision for the rest of his life. The only question to be answered was whether the truck driver would be held responsible for plaintiff’s injuries.
The trucking company’s insurance policy was $1,000,000.00. The carrier was desperate to avoid removing the cap from the policy, fearing that the exposure in this case was many multiples of the policy limits, even though Mr. Mann advised the carrier that he expected to win the case at trial. The carrier proposed binding arbitration, however, with a low of $400,000.00 to be paid immediately, and a high of $1,000,000.00, and the offer was accepted. The parties selected a retired Superior Court Judge to serve as arbitrator.
As Mr. Mann had predicted, the arbitrator returned a defense award–-but the $400,000.00 was long since deposited in the plaintiff’s attorney’s trust account.