Case details

Defense argued no proof bus’s driver did anything wrong





Result type

Not present

anoxic brain injury, emotional distress, head, lower back, pain, right ankle, right foot, traumatic brain injury
At around 7:50 a.m. on May 21, 2014, plaintiff Esiquio Hernandez, an unemployed 20 year old, was riding his motorcycle in Newberry Springs. As he entered the intersection of Valley Center Road and Fort Cady Road, he was struck by a school bus operated by Lisa Reynolds, who was turning left on her way to pick up school children at a remote location. Both the motorcycle and Hernandez ended up wedged under the bus. Hernandez’s mother, plaintiff Aurelia Garcia, a cook, and Hernandez’s girlfriend were waiting at the intersection for Reynolds’ bus to pick up Hernandez’s brother and two sisters when the accident occurred. As a result, Garcia, Hernandez’s girlfriend, and Hernandez’s minor siblings witnessed the accident. Garcia, Hernandez’s girlfriend and Hernandez’s grandfather then attempted to get Hernandez and the motorcycle out from under the bus, but were unable to do so and had to wait for paramedics to extract him. Hernandez claimed to his head, right foot, right ankle, and lower back. Hernandez and Garcia (acting individually and on behalf of Hernandez’s brother and two sisters) sued Reynolds; the owner of the school bus, First Student Inc.; and Reynolds’ employer, Silver Valley Unified School District. Hernandez alleged that Reynolds was negligent in the operation of the bus and that First Student and the school district were liable for Reynolds’ actions. Garcia brought a bystander claim against the defendants, claiming negligent infliction of emotional distress. The school district was ultimately dismissed from the case. In addition, Hernandez’s brother and sisters were later dismissed at the end of the case. Hernandez claimed that he was cut off by the school bus. Thus, he claimed that Reynolds caused the crash. Defense counsel argued that Hernandez was not where he said he was prior to the accident and that right before the impact, no one knew from where Hernandez came before he was on the paved road very close to the bus. Thus, counsel argued that the plaintiff bore the burden of proof to show that Reynolds did something wrong or unreasonable, and that without knowing from where Hernandez came, the burden of proof was not met., Hernandez claimed he suffered an anoxic brain injury, a traumatic brain injury, a degloving injury of his right foot and ankle, multiple chip fractures of the lumbar spine, and a compression fracture of the lumbar spine. He was subsequently air lifted to Antelope Valley Hospital, in Lancaster, where he was kept sedated and remained unconscious for 10 days. Hernandez ultimately underwent some physical therapy for his lower back and underwent surgery on his right ankle while in the hospital. Hernandez claimed that he continues to suffer from pain to his lower back and right ankle. The plaintiff’s medical experts opined that Hernandez suffered a TBI and an anoxic brain injury as a result of the accident. In addition, plaintiff’s counsel argued that Hernandez could never work again due to his cognitive loss from the brain . Garcia claimed sought recovery of emotional distress damages (bystander injury) as a result of witnessing the event concerning her son. Defense counsel admitted that Hernandez sustained an anoxic brain injury, but disputed the traumatic brain injury. Counsel also disputed the nature and extent of the brain . The defense’s medical experts opined that Hernandez sustained an anoxic brain injury only. Defense counsel noted that Hernandez’s school records showed horribly poor grades, low test scores, fighting, bad behavior, suspensions, and expulsions. Counsel also contended that the subject accident caused memory issues to a degree. However, defense counsel argued that Hernandez could work in a loosely supervised setting doing repetitive tasks (such as janitorial work). In addition, defense counsel argued that Hernandez was illegally riding a dirt bike on the highway and/or on the shoulder of the paved road, as he had no driver’s license, no insurance, no headlight, no brake lights, no speedometer, no odometer, improperly sized tires for street usage, no turn signals, and no horn. Thus, defense counsel argued that Hernandez was not entitled to recover non-economic losses via California Proposition 213, which prevents drivers injured in an accident from obtaining damages for their pain and suffering if they lacked insurance or their vehicle was not covered by insurance.
Superior Court of San Bernardino County, San Bernardino, CA

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