Case details

Defense: Bicyclist negligent for riding on sidewalk against traffic





Result type

Not present

hip, knee, left knee, meniscus, tear
On Oct. 19, 2010, plaintiff Juana Ramirez was operating her bicycle on the sidewalk of Soquel Avenue in Santa Cruz. As she passed Santa Cruz Nissan Dodge Volkswagen, a Santa Cruz new and used car dealer on Soquel Avenue, she collided with a pickup truck operated by Brent Fetti. Ramirez claimed to her left knee and hip. Ramirez sued Fetti and Neil Marshall, as Fetti’s pickup truck was still under his name. Ramirez alleged that Fetti was negligent in the operation of the pickup and that Marshall was vicariously liable for Fetti’s actions. Marshall was ultimately removed from the case, and the matter proceeded to an expedited jury trial against Fetti only. Ramirez claimed that she stopped and made eye contact with Fetti before riding in front of the pickup, and that Fetti indicated for her to proceed. However, she claimed that Fetti pulled forward and struck the left side of her bicycle with his vehicle. Ramirez alleged that Fetti was 100 percent liable for the accident because Fetti admitted he did not see her. Ramirez’s counsel acknowledged that Ramirez was riding on the sidewalk, but argued that the local Santa Cruz Municipal Code that precludes riding bicycles on sidewalks was for the stated purpose to require bicyclists to yield the right of way to pedestrians, and not vehicles. Fetti claimed that he was stopped at the stop sign before exiting the dealership he worked at. He claimed that as he was preparing to exit, he looked to the left for oncoming traffic. Fetti contended that Ramirez was operating her bicycle on the sidewalk of Soquel Avenue, against the flow of traffic, and that Ramirez approached from the right side of his vehicle. He also contended that Ramirez struck his vehicle when she ran into the side of his pickup truck. Defense counsel argued that Ramirez violated the Municipal Code by riding her bicycle on the sidewalk and that Ramirez was negligent for traveling in the wrong direction. Counsel also argued that the accident occurred in the evening and that Ramirez had inadequate lighting on her bicycle. In response, plaintiff’s counsel contended that the lighting conditions were not such that Ramirez needed a headlight., After the incident, Ramirez left the scene without assistance, but later presented for medical care a day or two later. She claimed pain to her left hip and knee, and was diagnosed with a meniscal tear of the left knee after undergoing an MRI. She did not require surgery, but received medical treatment with a physician as well as chiropractic treatment. The parties stipulated that Ramirez had $15,000 in damages and that the jury would only determine the percentage of Fetti’s liability.
Superior Court of Santa Cruz County, Santa Cruz, CA

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