Case details

Defendant claimed reversing vehicle did not strike plaintiff





Result type

Not present

back, knee, lower back, neck, upper back
On Feb. 14, 2010, plaintiff Joan Lane, 73, a retired caregiver, was walking through a Claim Jumper Restaurant parking lot in Torrance when a 2002 Toyota Rav4 operated by Michael Saksam Sar began backing out of a parking space toward her. Lane claimed the vehicle struck her, causing to her neck, shoulder, arm, wrist, hand, back, thigh, leg and knee. Lane sued Sar, alleging the defendant was negligent in the operation of his vehicle. Lane claimed that she was struck by the reversing vehicle and that to keep from falling down and being run over, she grabbed the rim of the spare tire mounted on the back of the vehicle, placing her fingers in the holes of the rim. She also claimed that when she yelled for Sar to stop, he looked back over his shoulder and laughed at her, after which he continued backing up at a higher rate of speed. In addition, Lane claimed that a front seat passenger in Sar’s vehicle stuck his head out of the window and mocked her. She alleged that after she was dragged 10 to 12 feet without falling down, an unidentified Good Samaritan yelled at Sar to stop, which he did abruptly. Lane claimed that this caused her fingers to be jammed into the holes of the tire rim. However, she admitted that she never fell down. Defense counsel argued that Lane was neither struck by Sar’s vehicle nor injured as a result of the incident. Sar denied striking Lane and alleged the incident was a case of pedestrian rage. He claimed that after putting the vehicle in reverse, he looked in his rearview mirrors and over his shoulders before he slowly began moving the vehicle backward. He claimed that after he had only moved a short distance, less than one foot, he heard Lane slap the rear window and then observed her run to the front passenger window, at which time she began yelling and flailing her arms in the air, claiming that Sar had hit her because she was black and he was white. Defense counsel noted that Sar is Cambodian, but his passenger was white. Sar also claimed that the spare tire mounted on the rear of his vehicle had a hard plastic cover over it and the rim was not exposed. Defense counsel also noted the vehicle was covered with a film of dust, but, other than a palm print on the rear window, there were no contact smudge marks on the vehicle. A witness to the accident, Sar’s friend who was walking through the parking lot, confirmed that Lane was not struck by the vehicle, but rather slapped her hand on the rear window after the vehicle had barely begun to move in reverse. An officer with the Torrance Police Department investigated and prepared a report on the incident. He testified that when he arrived at the scene, he observed Lane screaming and flailing her arms in the air, but that when Lane saw him, she grabbed her left arm. The officer also testified that Lane told him Sar hit her because she was black and her left arm and hand were bruised and swollen. However, he claimed that when he examined Lane’s arm and hand, he did not observe any swelling or bruises, but that Lane asked to be transported to a hospital and demanded that he first prepare a report on the accident since she “knew what she had to do.” The officer further testified that after investigating the scene, he observed that there were no contact marks on Sar’s vehicle., Lane allegedly sustained soft-tissue to her neck, left shoulder, left arm, left wrist, left hand, upper back, lower back, left thigh, left leg and left knee. She was transported by ambulance to Little Company of Mary Hospital in Torrance, where she was examined in the emergency room and released the same day. While she was diagnosed as having sustained contusions of her left arm and left wrist, the ER physician’s examination notes revealed she had no tenderness, swelling or bruises to either her arm or her wrists. Thereafter, Lane received chiropractic care from her treating chiropractor over a two-month period, receiving therapy on 29 occasions. Lane claimed she still has residual pain in the affected areas. The plaintiff’s treating chiropractor testified that Lane’s were a direct result of being hit by Sar’s vehicle and that the medical services received were reasonable and necessary. Defense counsel argued that Lane was neither struck by Sar’s vehicle nor injured as a result of the incident. The defense’s expert in orthopedic surgery testified that none of the chiropractic care was reasonable or necessary. The expert also testified that there was no documentation in either the ambulance or the hospital records noting that Lane sustained any .
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Van Nuys, CA

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