Case details

Defense: Motorcyclist’s attempt to pass truck resulted in crash





Result type

Not present

leg will never regain full function., right leg
During the evening of Feb. 1, 2014, plaintiff Deonte Griggs, 25, a construction worker, was traveling on his motorcycle on State Route 198, a two-lane state highway with one lane in each direction divided by a double yellow line, outside of Visalia. Griggs claimed that he was lawfully passing a Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck operated by Jesus Arriola when Arriola suddenly, and without signaling, made a left turn into his motorcycle. The collision caused Griggs to lose control of his motorcycle and be ejected onto the ground. He sustained to his right leg. Griggs sued Arriola, as well as Arriola’s mother, Alicia Nunez. Prior to the collision, Arriola was doing work for his mother at a property in Visalia. Arriola was on his way to pick up a tool to do the work, so plaintiff’s counsel contended that Arriola was acting as an agent for Nunez and that Arriola was also in the course and scope of his employment with Nunez. Thus, Griggs alleged that Arriola was negligent in the operation of the pickup truck and that Nunez was liable for her son’s actions. The California Highway Patrol concluded that Griggs was on the other side of the double yellow line and collided into Arriola’s truck in the other lane. The plaintiff’s accident reconstruction and biomechanical expert opined that Arriola was making a left turn to enter a gas station and that Griggs’ motorcycle was still in the lane of travel when the collision occurred, and not over the double yellow line as concluded by the California Highway Patrol. The expert further opined that Arriola had moved to his right in the lane of travel, and partially onto the shoulder, thereby “inviting” Griggs to pass Arriola on his motorcycle. Arriola disputed Griggs’ claims of how the accident happened and contended that Griggs made an unsafe passing maneuver that caused the collision. Defense counsel noted that Griggs testified that Arriola was making a move that Griggs was uncertain about, in that Arriola began drifting to the right in the lane without signaling. The defense’s accident reconstruction and motorcycle operation expert testified about the standard of care with driving and what is safe and not safe. The expert also testified that the California Highway Patrol was mostly right about the area of impact and that, at a minimum, the collision happened very close to the double yellow line. The defense’s expert also opined that the plaintiff’s expert’s opinion was compromised due to the baseline assumption made that Griggs’ version was the correct version and that Arriola’s version was not. The expert further opined that the area of impact notwithstanding, Griggs’ decision to pass a leading vehicle from behind after admitting that he was unsure of its intentions was inherently unsafe. In addition, the expert opined that from a common sense perspective, a motorcyclist would not follow so close and if a motorcyclist was unsure of what a driver would do, the motorcyclist would not attempt to pass the driver, as Griggs claimed he did., Griggs sustained a comminuted, compound fracture of the tibia and fibula of his right leg. He subsequently was taken to a hospital, where he underwent three procedures, including a surgical re-break of the tibia with implantation of additional hardware. At the time of trial, Griggs was still on crutches and limping. He claimed he has trouble walking and trouble weight-bearing on his injured leg. He also claimed that certain positions are difficult for him when sitting or standing. Griggs further claimed that his leg will never regain full function. Griggs alleged that he could not return to work or continue in his career working in construction. He also alleged that he cannot pursue other careers, such as a tractor-trailer truck driver or an automotive repair mechanic, which he claimed were higher-paying jobs that he would have eventually pursued. Griggs claimed that, at best, he could perform semi-mobile clerical type work. Thus, Griggs sought recovery of more than $1.5 million in total damages. Defense counsel did not dispute Griggs’ injury, but contended that Griggs’ leg was healing and that Griggs should be able to return to work in the future. Defense counsel further argued that Griggs would not be limited in his pursuit of his future career goals.
Superior Court of Tulare County, Tulare, CA

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