Case details

Failure to use police for traffic control caused crash: motorcyclist





Result type

Not present

acetabulum, ankle, arm, back, fracture, hip, wrist
On Aug. 12, 2015, plaintiff Mickey Bruce, 59, an inspector for the State of California, Department of Transportation (Caltrans), was motorcycling in the number one, far left, “fast” lane of northbound U.S. Route 101, in San Luis Obispo. The highway was undergoing a repaving project approximately three miles in length. As Bruce was traveling on a steep segment known as the Cuesta Grade, a vehicle in front of him suddenly stopped because of a vehicle operated by an employee of Anrak Corp., the subcontractor on the repaving project, who was traveling perpendicular across the lane in an attempt to control traffic so that asphalt grinders could be moved from the staging area on the northbound side to the southbound lanes. Bruce rear-ended the vehicle in front of him, causing him to be ejected from his motorcycle. He sustained to his lower back, pelvis, hip, left wrist, right ankle and right heel. Bruce sued Anrak Corp.; the general contractor on the repaving project, Telfer Highway Technologies; and the maintainer of the roadway, Caltrans. Bruce claimed that Telfer Highway was negligent for not seeking help from the California Highway Patrol to control the traffic, as per Caltrans’ policies. He alleged that, instead, Telfer Highway attempted a traffic break, or a separation in the flow of traffic, using its own vehicles, but that it needed three vehicles to cover the three northbound lanes and only had two available vehicles. Bruce alleged that as a result, Telfer Highway sought assistance from Anrak. Bruce claimed that Anrak violated its own policies, as it’s not supposed to participate in any traffic control measures. He also claimed that Anrak was negligent for offering an employee who had never performed traffic control and that the Anrak employee attempted to cross the northbound lanes in an unsafe crossing maneuver, but failed to assess oncoming traffic. In addition, Bruce claimed that Caltrans was negligent for failing to inform Telfer Highway that the CHP was available to control the traffic on the night of the accident. Telfer Highway claimed that it had no responsibility since the traffic control break never occurred. Anrak claimed that it was not responsible for its employee since Telfer Highway directed his activities and, therefore, became a special employer. Caltrans tendered its defense to the insurer of Telfer Highway, but claimed that it had no duty to inform Telfer Highway of CHP’s presence. Counsel for all three defendants argued that Bruce was the cause of his own , as he was inattentive and negligent in the operation of his motorcycle., Bruce sustained a lumbar compression fracture at L3; a comminuted, dislocation fracture of the left wrist’s distal radius; a nondisplaced fracture of the right ankle’s talus; a comminuted fracture of the right heel’s sustentaculum tali (a horizontal shelf that arises from the anteromedial portion of the calcaneus); and fractures of the left acetabular and pelvis. He was taken by ambulance to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center, in San Luis Obispo, and then later airlifted to the Level I Trauma Center at Community Regional Medical Center, in Fresno. Bruce underwent three hip surgeries, including a total hip replacement. He also underwent open reduction and internal fixation to treat his left wrist fracture. As a result of the hip and pelvis fractures, Bruce’s left leg became a half inch shorter than his right leg. According to his treating orthopedic surgeon, Bruce will require another hip replacement in his lifetime, and Bruce claimed he might also require another surgery on his left wrist in the future. Bruce claimed that he returned to modified duty for approximately six months, but was unable to perform his job duties. He alleged that as a result, he retired early at 62, instead of 65, as he intended. Bruce also claimed that he is no longer able to run like he used to before the accident and has been unable to snow ski and water ski, as he did before the crash. Bruce sought recovery of $272,000 in past medical costs, $616,000 in future medical costs and $358,000 in future lost earnings. He also sought recovery of damages for his past and future pain and suffering.
Superior Court of San Luis Obispo County, San Luis Obispo, CA

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