Case details

Bicyclist claimed driver sideswiped him





Result type

Not present

face, facial, fracture, nose
On Aug. 17, 2008, plaintiff Joseph Tucker, 29, a Wells Fargo Treasury Associate, was riding a fixed gear bicycle east on the left hand side of Eddy Street. At around 9:02 a.m., when he was approximately 42 feet from the intersection with Mason Street in San Francisco, Tucker was struck by a white shuttle van operated by an independent contractor. Tucker claimed the side of the van crashed into him, causing him to be ejected from his bike. He subsequently landed on his face and sustained . The white shuttle van never stopped and left the scene. As a result, a witness chased the van and although it was identified as a van owned by Lorrie’s Travel & Tours Inc., there was never any positive identification of the driver or the van number. Tucker sued the believed driver of the van, Rufino Mejia; another possible driver of the van, Edgar Abecendario; and the owner of the van, Lorrie’s Travel & Tours Inc. Tucker alleged that Mejia and/or Abecendario were negligent in the operation of the van and that Lorrie’s was vicariously liable for their actions. Lorrie’s subsequently filed a cross-complaint against its drivers, seeking indemnification. Through the use of Lorrie’s internal documents relating to its drivers, plaintiff’s counsel identified four of the 15 Lorrie’s drivers who were in the Union Square area at the time of the collision. Counsel contended that further investigation pointed to Mejia as being the only driver on Eddy Street at the time of the collision. Plaintiff’s counsel noted that Mejia originally denied being involved in the collision, although admitted to being on Eddy Street approximately 10 minutes after the collision, when he was briefly stopped by the police. An internal investigation by Lorrie’s also led to the identification of four drivers possibly involved, but Lorrie’s never disciplined Mejia or concluded that he was the driver. Prior to trial, Abecendario was dismissed from both Tucker’s case and the cross-complaint. Lorrie’s also settled with Tucker for $250,000 prior to trial. Thus, Tucker’s action proceeded to trial against Mejia only, and the cross-complaint against Mejia was bifurcated and has not yet been resolved. At trial, Tucker claimed he was riding his bicycle in the left, eastbound lane when Mejia began making a lane change from the right lane into his lane of travel, causing the van to sideswipe him. He alleged that Mejia never stopped his van and left the scene. Mejia claimed at trial that there was no contact between the van and Tucker. He also claimed that Tucker veered from the left lane into his lane in order to make a right turn, and that the plaintiff admitted fault for the collision to the investigating officers. The defense’s accident reconstruction/biomechanical expert opined that it was likely that Tucker over-braked, as the plaintiff was on a fixed gear bicycle with a single break, and pitched himself over the handlebars., Tucker sustained serious facial , including three jaw fractures that consisted of a complete mandibular break and bilateral subcondylar fractures. He was subsequently taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where he stayed as a patient for five days. On the fourth day, he was operated on by his expert and treating maxillofacial specialist, who performed a nine-hour surgery that, according to plaintiff’s counsel, was done to near perfection. During the procedure, Tucker underwent open reduction and internal fixation to his mandible and one of his subcondylar fractures. Two plates and 10 screws were used during the procedure. Despite the success of the surgery, one complication arose when Tucker’s parotid gland was severed, causing an unusual spit pocket. Thus, Tucker claimed that he will require ongoing maintenance of the veneers and crowns on his teeth. He also claimed that he has some mild scarring on his chin. However, he acknowledged that after three years, he is recovering emotionally and getting his smile back. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that Tucker incurred past medical expenses of approximately $150,000. Thus, Tucker sought recovery of damages for his past and future medical costs, and past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel argued that Tucker veered into Mejia’s lane, so the plaintiff was to blame for his by failing to use due care.
Superior Court of San Francisco County, San Francisco, CA

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