Case details

Customer struck by auto shop’s unlicensed driver





Result type

Not present

dental, disfigurement, fracture, head, knee, leg, scar, temporomandibular joint, TMJ, tooth
In June 2009, plaintiff Tina Ho, 19, a student, drove to Pacific Coast Jiffy Lube in Goleta to have the oil changed on her vehicle. After dropping off her vehicle, she walked to the cashier’s lobby to pay her bill. Once the service was complete, the cashier directed Ho to retrieve her vehicle. As she walked out of the office, toward her vehicle, a Mercury owned by Mary Jochum, another customer, and operated by a Jiffy Lube employee, Oscar Flores, accelerated out of control through the Jiffy Lube Service Center. The vehicle struck Ho’s legs, throwing her over her vehicle and landing on the concrete pavement, striking her head and face. Another Jiffy Lube employee was also struck. The Mercury then crashed into the side of a vehicle on Hollister Avenue. Ho sued the operators of the service center, Jiffy Lube International Inc. and PCJL Inc.; the driver, Flores; and the vehicle owner, Jocum. She alleged that Flores was negligent in the operation of the vehicle, and that Jiffy Lube and PCJL were liable for Flores’ actions, as well as for negligently entrusting Flores with the vehicle. Ho also alleged that Jochum was negligent for entrusting Flores with her vehicle. The matter proceeded to mediation. Ho’s counsel noted that Jochum was disabled, so her vehicle was modified in such a way that both a left foot and right foot accelerator were specially equipped within the vehicle. Counsel contended that when Jochum dropped off her vehicle, she allegedly told an employee that she “didn’t need to worry about the pedal on the left,” before walking into the Jiffy Lube lobby. Thus, Ho’s counsel contended that Flores stepped firmly on the left foot accelerator of Jochum’s vehicle, thinking that it was the brake. Counsel also noted that Flores was 17 years old and did not have a driver’s license, and contended that Jiffy Lube and PCJL should have known that he was unlicensed. As a result, Ho’s counsel further contended that Jiffy Lube and PCJL were negligent for Flores’ actions, as he was in the course and scope of his employment. Jochum denied any liability. According to plaintiff’s counsel, in Jiffy Lube’s answer to the complaint, it alleged that Jochum was partially responsible for the incident. However, neither Jiffy Lube nor PCJL asserted that contention at the mediation., Ho sustained a complex comminuted and displaced fracture of the right tibia, a fracture of the right fibula and a fractured tooth. She claimed that she also suffered a temporomandibular joint dysfunction as a result of the accident. Ho was subsequently taken to Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara and underwent emergency open reduction and internal fixation surgery. Thereafter, she underwent two additional surgeries. The first additional surgery was performed a year later, during which Ho had the hardware removed. The second surgery was performed six months after that, during which Ho underwent a high tibial varus corrective osteotomy. Ho was left with a scar on her left knee. She alleged that her medical specials totaled $224,165.
Superior Court of Santa Barbara County, Santa Barbara, CA

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