Case details

Defense disputed seriousness of injuries from rollover crash





Result type

Not present

back, brain, brain damage, brain injury, concussion, depression, detached hip, eye, head, lower back, mental, neck ankle mental, psychological, retina, shoulder, traumatic brain injury
On Sept.10, 2009, at approximately 2:09 p.m., plaintiff Laurinda “Sunny Rae” Seamans, 46, a manager/bookkeeper for her husband’s veterinary practice, was traveling in her 1992 Chevy pickup on eastbound Avenue 26 in Madera when she attempted to pass a large, 2000 ISU 2-axle “box cage” truck on the left. However, the truck struck Seamans’ vehicle, causing it to roll multiple times and eventually come to rest on its side after being stopped by a tree. Seamans claimed she suffered a brain injury and pain to several parts of her body as a result of the crash. Seamans sued the driver of the “box cage” truck, Xang Xiong, and Xiong’s employer, Palmer Farms Inc. She alleged that Xiong was negligent in the operation of the truck and that Palmer Farms was vicariously liable for Xiong’s actions. Seamans testified that prior to the subject accident she was traveling behind the Palmer Farms truck for several miles and that the truck was traveling at between 35 and 45 mph. She claimed she matched the speed of the truck with her vehicle and stayed about five to 10 car lengths behind the truck. However, she claimed that as she was passing the Palmer Truck that remained steady at 35 to 45 mph, Xiong suddenly and without signaling or any other warning made a left turn into her vehicle. Seamans alleged that this resulted in her vehicle rolling multiple times, causing a mailbox to come through her window and strike her shoulder. Plaintiff’s counsel noted that Xiong was determined by the investigating California Highway Patrol officer to be at fault under California Vehicle Code § 22107, which states, “no person shall turn a vehicle from a direct course or move right or left upon a roadway until such movement can be made with reasonable safety and then only after the giving of an appropriate signal in the manner provided in this chapter in the event any other vehicle may be affected by the movement.” Plaintiff’s counsel also noted that the investigating officer failed to note anything about Xiong’s use of a turn signal at the time of the subject accident, but that Xiong’s lack of signaling was confirmed by a witness who observed the accident while traveling in the opposite direction. Defense counsel argued that that the subject accident was caused by the negligence of Seamans, who had failed to appreciate the fact that the Palmer Farm truck had its turn signal on and had slowed to 4 or 5 mph to complete its left turn into the poultry farm. Plaintiff’s counsel contends the defense violated a motion in limine by presenting a new opinion of an expert at trial, as the defense’s trucking expert allegedly did a vision experiment the day before he testified and allegedly gave a new opinion at trial., As a result of the subject accident, Seamans was treated at the scene and then taken by ambulance to Madera Community Hospital. Seamans alleged a traumatic brain injury resulting frontal lobe syndrome, a concussion, post-concussion syndrome, a swollen brain, memory loss, personality changes and a mood disorder. She also alleged she suffered a retinal detachment; a swollen cornea; pain to her ankle, hip, neck and lower back; and shoulder complaints that required surgery. In addition, she alleged that she had suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the accident. Seamans claimed that as a result of her brain injury, she had a headache every day for the first eight months after the accident, which was reduced to three to four times a week. She also claimed she threw up every day for six months. Seamans further claimed that while her vehicle was rolling at approximately 60 mph, she remembered a huge mail box coming through the driver’s side window and pounding her in the left shoulder so badly that she thought it broke her jaw. She claimed one of the bursae in her shoulder was permanently damaged and had to be removed and underwent surgery to file down the broken edge of her clavicle on April 28, 2010. However, despite treatment, Seamans alleged that her neck continues to crunch, pop and crack, and that the trauma to her neck caused so much inflammation that it brought on premature arthritis. Seamans also claimed she remembers being hit in the mouth during the accident, which resulted in her chipping her two front teeth and cutting the inside of the lip on the left side of her mouth. She alleged that the flesh never healed correctly, so she had to have plastic surgery in order to fix it to look more normal and she ultimately had to have her teeth fixed. Seamans further claimed that her hip was bruised so deeply, that it took more than two months for the discoloration to subside and she still had residual complaints. In addition, Seamans claimed she suffered a blow to her eye in the accident by hitting it on the gear shift. The eye injury allegedly tore a hole in the retina in the back of her eye and she claimed she was bleeding behind her eye ball for over eight months after the accident. She alleged that as a result, she could not see out of her eye for many months. Aside from the physical components, Seamans alleged she suffered an extreme amount of emotional trauma as a result of the incident. She also alleged she continues to suffer from a brain injury and short term memory loss due to the many blows to her head during the rolling of her vehicle. In addition, Seamans alleged an unexplained personality and mood change following the subject accident. Plaintiff’s counsel presented six witnesses, all of whom were close personal friends of Seamans, who testified about the alleged personality and mood changes since the accident. Seamans’ husband also testified that his wife was not the same person after the accident and that the light had gone out in her eyes. In addition, the witnesses described how Seamans was more impulsive and became socially inappropriate. In addition, the plaintiff’s neurologist testified that personality and mood changes were the result of a traumatic brain injury and were indicative of frontal lobe syndrome. Defense counsel contended that Seamans sustained a concussion, a left shoulder injury, soft-tissue to her neck and back, and numerous soft-tissue complaints that had since healed. In addition, counsel contended that there was no evidence of a frontal lobe injury.
Superior Court of Madera County, Madera, CA

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