Case details

Family claimed driver should have known he struck decedent




Mediated Settlement

Result type

Not present

bleeding profusely, blunt force trauma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder, COPD, head, traumatic injuries, unconscious
At around 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2013, plaintiffs’ decedent Zhen Guang Ng, 86, was crossing Naples Street, at its intersection with Rolph Street in a residential portion of San Francisco, with the assistance of a walking cane. Ng was crossing within a marked pedestrian crosswalk, and the intersection was controlled by stop signs in all four directions. Before Ng reached the other side, a Ford F250 pickup truck operated by Giampaolo Boschetti drove through the Naples Street stop sign and stuck Ng head-on. As a result, Ng was knocked to the ground and run over. However, Boschetti did not stop his vehicle and continued through the intersection, causing Ng to be dragged underneath the truck for some 20 feet before ejecting Ng from under the rear of the truck. Ng sustained multiple traumatic and died shortly thereafter. Boschetti stopped his pickup some distance away and returned to the scene. Surveillance video taken from a nearby convenience store captured the incident from two different angles. Boschetti was not found to be under the influence at the time of the incident. The decedent’s adult children — Charles Ng, Nelson Ng, Melissa Ng and Hannah Ng — attempted an early mediation against Boschetti, but it was unsuccessful. As a result, the decedent’s adult children sued Boschetti and an unidentified property management company, believing it to be the owner of Boschetti’s pickup truck. They alleged that Boschetti was negligent in the operation of the pickup truck and that the property management company was vicariously liable for Boschetti’s actions. Plaintiffs’ counsel contended that Boschetti’s credibility was an issue, in that Boschetti’s description of the accident in a recorded statement to the police differed from what he testified to during depositions. Plaintiffs’ counsel also disputed Boschetti’s claim that he was unaware that he had hit a pedestrian. Counsel asserted that, given the angle of the impact being straight on; the fact that Boschetti’s vehicle drove over the decedent, causing the tires to visibly rise and fall; and the fact that the decedent was dragged, causing the decedent to make contact with the undercarriage of the Boschetti’s vehicle, there would have been substantial sensory cues to alert Boschetti to the fact that he had just hit and run over a human being. Counsel contended that the sensory cues would have included sounds resulting from the impact with the front of the vehicle and the decedent’s body hitting and rolling beneath the undercarriage of the vehicle, as well as the feeling associated with the amount of rise and fall necessary to roll over a human body. Thus, plaintiffs’ counsel asserted that Boschetti’s allegation was questionable. Boschetti claimed that he did not see the decedent prior to the accident. In a recorded statement provided to the police, Boschetti stated that he had come to a complete stop at the stop sign and remained stopped for approximately one second before proceeding. He also stated that he felt that he had run over something, but that he did not realize it was a person until he turned around and saw a man on the ground. However, at his deposition, Boschetti admitted that he did not stop at the stop sign. He also testified that he did not know he had run over something, but rather thought he had a flat tire, and that when he turned around to look, he still had no idea he had struck and run over a person. Defense counsel asserted that, before the stop sign, Boschetti had slowed his vehicle to a speed slightly over walking speed, which, with the rise in the street elevation, could have given the impression that he had come to a stop. Counsel also asserted that plaintiffs’ counsel’s claims about the motion of Boschetti’s vehicle (in which one tire rose and fell over the decedent) would have been consistent with the driver perceiving that he had had a flat tire, as opposed to striking a human. In addition, defense counsel asserted that the position of the sun at the time of the accident would have made it very difficult for a driver in the position of Boschetti to have seen a pedestrian before the incident. Defense counsel further noted that the security camera showed that the decedent did not slow or act as if he was aware of Boschetti’s approaching vehicle., Zhen Guang Ng sustained multiple traumatic , including blunt-force trauma to his head. He was initially breathing at the scene, but was unconscious and bleeding profusely from his head. Ng was subsequently taken by ambulance to a hospital, but was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. He was 86 years old. He was survived by two adult sons and two adult daughters. The decedent’s four adult children sought recovery of wrongful death damages. They claimed that their father had been living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (“COPD”), so he had a life-expectancy of four years. They also claimed that his past medical expenses totaled $31,440 and that funeral and burial expenses totaled $18,000. They further claimed that the decedent’s financial contribution, social security, and value of services totaled approximately $66,000. In addition, the decedent’s family sought recovery of punitive damages. Defense counsel moved to strike the plaintiffs’ punitive-damages claim. However, plaintiffs’ counsel successfully defeated two of the defense’s motions to strike punitive damages. According to plaintiffs’ counsel, the court found that the allegations asserting that Boschetti was aware of the stop sign, observed pedestrians in the area, intentionally failed to stop at the stop sign, and continued to proceed even after he struck Ng were sufficient to enable the trier of fact to conclude that Boschetti’s conduct was despicable, thereby entitling the plaintiffs’ to an award of punitive damages.
Superior Court of San Francisco County, San Francisco, CA

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