Case details

Defense: Motorcyclist, not turning vehicle, caused crash





Result type

Not present

brain, brain injury, cognition, concussion, head, knee, knee derangement, mental, neuropsychological, psychological, shoulder, shoulder impingement, traumatic brain injury
On Oct. 14, 2012, plaintiff Ira Farnham, 29, a law school student, was operating his motorcycle on 10th Avenue, a one-way street in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. As he approached the intersection with J Street, a vehicle operated by Randy Nguyen, who was traveling in front of him, attempted to make a left turn into a parking garage off of 10th Avenue. Farnham, who was wearing a helmet, impacted the left side of Nguyen’s vehicle, causing Farnham’s head to hit Nguyen’s driver’s side window. Farnham sustained of a knee and a shoulder. Farnham sued Nguyen, alleging that Nguyen was negligent in the operation of his vehicle. Plaintiff’s counsel called an eyewitness who testified that Farnham was within one to 1.5 car-lengths of Nguyen’s vehicle at the time Nguyen suddenly turned off of 10th Avenue and claimed that Nguyen “overshot” the entrance to the parking garage, causing Nguyen to make a sudden left turn. The eyewitness also testified that the sudden turn forced Farnham to “put the bike down” behind Nguyen’s vehicle. Thus, plaintiff’s counsel argued that Nguyen made a sudden, sharp, left turn into the parking garage without signaling and that Nguyen’s actions caused Farnham to have no opportunity to try to avoid hitting Nguyen’s vehicle. Counsel also argued that Nguyen was negligent for “overshooting” the garage entrance and pulling into the exit side of the garage, and not the entrance. Defense counsel argued that the plaintiff’s eyewitness testimony was inconsistent with the physical evidence. Counsel contended that the physical evidence of the impact showed that Farnham was attempting to pass Nguyen’s vehicle on the left on a one-way street, i.e. Farnham was lane-splitting. Counsel also contended that photographs of the garage showed that both driveways off of 10th Avenue were entrances, not exits, so Nguyen did not overshoot the driveway when he tried to enter. Defense counsel argued that, on the other hand, if the plaintiff’s eyewitness was to be believed, then Farnham was traveling unreasonably close to Nguyen’s vehicle in violation of California Vehicle Code § 21703, which states that the driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon, and the condition of, the roadway., Farnham claimed he sustained a knee derangement, a shoulder impingement, and a concussion with a related traumatic brain injury. When paramedics arrived at the scene, they reported that Farnham had lost consciousness and suffered memory loss in relation to the accident. Farnham was subsequent taken to a hospital, where he was treated and examined overnight. He then underwent orthopedic care for his knee and shoulder. The plaintiff’s neurology expert opined that an MRI of Farnham’s brain showed damage to the corpus callosum, a band of nerve fibers joining the two hemispheres of the brain. As a result, Farnham’s main claim was that his head caused lasting cognitive deficits, for which he underwent neuropsychological treatment and an evaluation. Farnham claimed that the brain injury coincided with his first-year of law school exams, which caused him to fail his exams because he was unable to retain any information from his class work. As a result, he was put on academic probation and eventually failed out of law school. Thus, Farnham sought recovery of $4.5 million in total damages, including $4 million in lost career earnings as an attorney, an unspecified amount in past economic damages for his hospitalization and medical treatment, and an unspecified amount of damages for his pain and suffering. Defense counsel contended that Farnham admitted to self-medicating with medical marijuana and that the plaintiff’s neurologist, on cross-examination, admitted that the finding on the MRI could have been a result of long-term use of marijuana.
Superior Court of San Diego County, San Diego, CA

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