Case details

Family claimed failure to install median barrier caused fatal crash





Result type

Not present

fractures ribs, leg, pelvis, traumatic injuries
At around 12:30 p.m. on July 22, 2012, plaintiffs’ decedent David Guest, 56, a title company vice president, was driving on westbound State Route 152, also known as Pacheco Pass Highway, in Merced County, when his vehicle was struck head on by a vehicle operated by Joseph Dinner, who had crossed the median area after losing control of his vehicle while heading eastbound. Guest sustained multiple traumatic , including fractures of his ribs, a leg and pelvis. He ultimately died 11 days later while treating his at a hospital. The decedent’s surviving wife, Karen Guest, and his two teenage sons, Jake Guest and Nick Guest, sued Dinner and the maintainer of the roadway, the state of California, through the State of California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). The decedent’s family alleged that Dinner was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that the state failed to install, repair, or properly maintain the roadway, creating a dangerous condition. Plaintiffs’ counsel contended that Dinner was under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the incident, which caused Dinner to lose control of his vehicle and crash into the decedent’s vehicle. Plaintiffs’ counsel asserted that Caltrans had created an unreasonably dangerous condition at the accident scene by failing to erect a median barrier in a timely manner. Counsel contended that Caltrans had identified the subject location on the roadway as one in which “warrants” a median barrier and in which Caltrans’ requirements for a median barrier had previously been met. Plaintiffs’ counsel further contended that Caltrans had approved the installation of a median barrier in or about 2007, but that final installation was not completed until after David Guest’s accident, in July 2013. Dinner’s counsel noted that it was never established that Dinner was ever under the influence of any substance, drug, or alcohol. In addition, the defense’s toxicology expert opined that there was no proof of Dinner’s impairment, as the alleged amount of methamphetamine in Dinner’s system at the time of the accident was not enough to impair his judgment. Dinner’s counsel further asserted that Caltrans should be apportioned significant liability for the subject accident for its failure to install a median barrier at the subject location. Caltrans’ counsel asserted that Dinner caused the collision and that plaintiffs’ counsel could not establish the presence of a dangerous condition, as defined under the Government Code. Counsel also asserted that plaintiffs’ counsel had no evidence of the collision location on SR-152 posing any substantial risk of injury when used with due care by the public generally. In addition, Caltrans’ counsel asserted that plaintiffs’ counsel must show that Dinner was not the sole cause of the collision and must show that Dinner was not under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the collision, despite the positive blood test for methamphetamine., David Guest sustained multiple blunt force trauma, including rib fractures, a leg fracture, and multiple pelvic fractures. He was subsequently taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he later died 11 days after the subject accident, during a fifth surgery to attempt to repair his pelvic fractures. Guest had incurred $997,988.79 in medical expenses prior to his death. He was survived by his wife, Karen Guest, and his two teenage sons, Jake Guest and Nick Guest. Thus, Ms. Guest sought recovery $4,090.24 in funeral expenses and $997,988.70 for her husband’s past medical expenses. His family also sought recovery of $2,376.799 in future lost wages. Defense counsel disputed the amount of the family’s alleged loss of the decedent’s future wages.
Superior Court of Merced County, Merced, CA

Recommended Experts


Get a FREE consultation for your case