Case details

Driver’s unsafe U-turn sole cause of crash, city’s counsel argued





Result type

Not present

dislocation, elbow
At around 3:30 p.m. on April 30, 2014, plaintiff Steven Kennedy, 48, an oil field worker, was riding his 2010 Harley-Davidson motorcycle south on Cedar Avenue, in Fresno. As he entered the T-intersection with Bulldog Lane on a green light, he collided with a 2008 Dodge Avenger operated Michael Bravo, who was making a U-turn on Cedar Avenue. The impact caused Kennedy to be thrown from his motorcycle and strike a pole before coming to rest on the sidewalk. Kennedy sustained to his right elbow and left leg. Kennedy sued Bravo and the maintainer of the intersection, the city of Fresno. Kennedy alleged that Bravo was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that the city was liable for the dangerous condition of public property. A police report cited Bravo as the one who caused the collision by failing to yield to oncoming traffic. As a result, Bravo’s insurer agreed to settle with Kennedy. Bravo was subsequently dismissed from the case, and that matter continued against the city only. Plaintiff noted that the intersection was shaped like a “T,” with Cedar Avenue proceeding straight through the intersection and Bulldog Lane ending at Cedar Avenue, and that the intersection was located just west of the campus for California State University, Fresno. Counsel subsequently contended that the T-intersection was dangerous due to the heavy pedestrian traffic and motor vehicles heading to the campus, Bulldog Stadium, and Beiden Field. Plaintiff’s counsel also contended that although the intersection had traffic lights, in 2004, city officials decided the intersection needed to have a dedicated left-turn light to control traffic. However, counsel contended that the city did not install the left-turn signal until 2015, after the subject collision, leaving the intersection in a dangerous condition. Accordingly, before the left-turn signal was installed, motorists driving north or south on Cedar Avenue were required to yield the right of way to oncoming vehicles before making a U-turn or left turn onto Bulldog Lane. The city’s counsel argued that the intersection was safe, even before the left-turn light was installed, as there were already traffic lights in place and the public was safe when motorists used care. Counsel argued that as such, Bravo was at fault for not using due care when executing his turn. The city’s counsel further argued that the city did its due diligence by putting the intersection on a priority list once it was determined that the intersection needed a left-turn lane., Kennedy sustained torn ligaments and a severe dislocation of the right elbow and forearm. He also sustained traumatic to his left leg. Shortly after Kennedy was taken to a hospital, his left leg was amputated below the knee. He also underwent several surgeries to reconstruct his right elbow. Kennedy now wears a prosthetic leg. Before he lost his leg, Kennedy made more than $170,000 a year plus benefits by working in the oil fields of California, Oklahoma and Arkansas. After the accident, Kennedy tried to return to work, but he contended that his prevented him from handling the physical demands of the job. He also contended that he will need more surgeries to further treat his elbow and leg. Thus, Kennedy sought recovery of $600,000 in past medical costs, $2.7 million in future medical costs, and an unspecified amount of damages for his past and future loss of earnings. He also sought recovery of noneconomic damages for his past and future pain and suffering.
Superior Court of Fresno County, Fresno, CA

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