Case details

Defense: Plaintiff moved with vehicle, caused her own injuries





Result type

Not present

fracture, pain, right foot
On Oct. 19, 2012, plaintiff Florence Franet, 85, a retired schoolteacher, confronted Rica Tseng in the front parking lot of a party supply store in Danville. Tseng had parked in front of the store with her 4-year-old son in a car seat in the back seat of the vehicle. Tseng had rolled up the windows, turned off the engine, and locked the doors before entering the store. Upon seeing the child in the locked vehicle, Franet reported an unattended child to the police, since she and her daughter felt that the temperature was too hot that day. Shortly thereafter, Franet confronted Tseng in the parking lot. After the confrontation, Tseng entered her vehicle. Franet then walked over to the passenger side to place a cardboard box up to shield the boy. At the same time, Tseng reversed her vehicle to leave and subsequently ran over Franet’s right foot. Franet sued Rica Tseng (originally erroneously sued as “Erica Tseng”). Franet alleged that Tseng was negligent in the operation of her vehicle. Defense counsel contended that Franet put herself in harm’s way by approaching the vehicle. The defense’s accident reconstruction expert gave the distance the vehicle traveled before the impact took place and testified that the distance suggested that Franet was walking alongside the vehicle before the impact took place. The defense’s human factors expert testified to the various auditory and visual signals that should have indicated to Franet that a vehicle was moving and testified to how many steps it would have taken from where Franet started to where the impact took place. Thus, the expert opined that Franet moved with the vehicle prior to impact. In response, Franet contended that it did not matter how negligent she was, as she was acting in an attempt to rescue the child from an emergency situation., Franet sustained a fracture dislocation across the top of her right foot. She was subsequently taken by ambulance to a Kaiser Parmanente medical hospital, as she was a Kaiser member. At the hospital, her foot was noted to be swollen, so no immediate surgery could be performed until the swelling went down. As a result, the hospital staff tried to reduce the dislocation by manual manipulation. Ultimately, Franet underwent surgery to repair the foot in November 2012. The procedure included an open reduction of the fracture with internal fixation and percutaneous pinning. Franet claimed that despite undergoing surgery, she has residual balance issues, and pain and stiffness in her right foot. She also claimed that she is unable to ambulate for long distances and that driving is difficult. She further claimed that there is a possibility for future surgery due to the possibility of developing arthritis in her foot. Thus, Franet sought recovery of $28,188 in stipulated medical costs and $134,104.81 in attendant care. She also sought recovery of damages for her past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel stipulated that Franet fractured her right foot. However, the defense’s podiatry expert opined that Franet’s balance issues were not related to the fracture dislocation, which had healed. In addition, the defense’s expert orthopedic surgeon testified that there were a variety of different causes for Franet’s balance issues, but that the orthopedic issues originated from Franet’s spine and were pre-existing.
Superior Court of Contra Costa County, Contra Costa, CA

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