Case details

Collision caused vehicle to lose control and strike him: bicyclist





Result type

Not present

back, collarbone, ear, fracture, fusion, head, herniated disc, hip, knee, lumbar, neck, shoulder, transverse process, vertebra
On Jan. 11, 2012, at approximately 2:30 p.m., plaintiff Omar Bermudez, 29, a stocker at Target and cashier at Jack in the Box, stopped his bicycle on the southeast corner of the intersection of Talbert Avenue and Bushard Street in Fountain Valley. While he was standing with his bicycle, Bermudez was struck by a vehicle operated by Nathan Heacox, who had veered off of the road from eastbound Talbert Avenue after he had collided with a vehicle that had attempted a left turn from eastbound Talbert Avenue. The turning vehicle was operated by Faith Ciolek. Bermudez claimed to his right hip, right ear, lower back, right shoulder and right knee. Bermudez sued the driver that struck him, Nathan Heacox; the owner of Mr. Heacox’s vehicle, Christine Heacox; the driver of the turning vehicle, Faith Ciolek; and the owner of Ms. Ciolek’s vehicle, Richard Ciolek. Bermudez alleged that Mr. Heacox and Ms. Ciolek were negligent in the operation of their respective vehicles. He also alleged that Ms. Heacox was vicariously liable for Mr. Heacox’s actions and that Mr. Ciolek was vicariously liable for Ms. Ciolek’s actions. Prior to trial, Bermudez dismissed his claims against vehicle owners Ms. Heacox and Mr. Ciolek. Mr. Heacox claimed that he entered the intersection on a yellow light, and had the right-of-way, and that Ms. Ciolek took an unsafe left turn in front of him. Thus, he claimed that Ms. Ciolek caused the initial collision that caused him to lose control and strike Bermudez. Ms. Ciolek claimed that Mr. Heacox was driving in excess of the posted speed limit and that he entered the intersection against a red light. Thus, she claimed that Mr. Heacox was entirely liable for the initial collision, as well as the accident with Bermudez., Bermudez fractured his right hip in three places, fractured his right patella, partially severed his right ear, fractured his right collarbone, fractured the transverse process of his lumbar spine, herniated his lumbar spine at the L4-5 level, and suffered deep lacerations to his right leg, as well as suffered other soft-tissue . He was subsequently taken from the scene of the accident by ambulance and brought to an emergency room. Bermudez underwent emergency surgery on his fractured kneecap and severed ear, and he originally treated his spinal injury with some physical therapy. However, Bermudez ultimately underwent two lumbar spine surgeries, consisting of a lumbar discectomy in December 2012 and a lumbar fusion in March 2012. Bermudez claimed he still has pain/discomfort in his lower back and right knee, while his hip and shoulder have mostly resolved. He alleged that as a result of his back and knee conditions, he is physically limited and can no longer run long distances. Bermudez also claimed he missed four months of work following the accident and has a diminished earning capacity due to his back and knee conditions. He alleged that as a result, he will have to retire early, reducing his work life. In addition, Bermudez claimed that he will require another lower back surgery, consisting of an adjacent level lumbar fusion. Thus, Bermudez sought recovery of $9.5 million in total damages, including roughly $450,000 in past medical costs. Counsel for both Mr. Heacox and Ms. Ciolek disputed the nature and extent of Bermudez’s lower back , including Bermudez’s need to have the two lumbar surgeries and the alleged future surgery.
Superior Court of Orange County, Santa Ana, CA

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