Case details

Lawsuit: Man’s health deteriorated after wheelchair fall





Result type

Not present

brain, subdural hematoma
On Feb. 21, 2017, plaintiffs’ decedent Jimmi Salem, 79, was being transported in a wheelchair on a paratransit bus operated by Mauricio Batres, an employee of First Transit Inc., which was providing paratransit services to residents of San Mateo County by and through a contract with the San Mateo Transit District, commonly known as SamTrans. When the bus was near an adult day health center, in Burlingame, Salem’s wheelchair tipped. Salem fell, and he suffered an injury of his head. Salem’s guardian ad litem, A. Irsan Salem, acting in Jimmi Salem’s behalf, and Jimmi Salem’s wife, Irmawati Jahja, acting individually, sued Batres, the San Mateo County Transit District and First Transit. The lawsuit alleged that Batres was negligent in his operation of the bus. The lawsuit further alleged that the San Mateo County Transit District and First Transit were vicariously liable for Batres’ actions. Jimmi Salem died after the lawsuit had been filed. His estate was substituted as a plaintiff. Plaintiffs’ counsel contended that Salem was a wheelchair user who was in the custody and control of the San Mateo County Transit District, First Transit and the companies’ agents at the time of the accident. Counsel also contended that Batres failed to properly secure Salem and the wheelchair, causing it to tip over. Defense counsel denied the defendants were liable for the incident., Salem suffered a large, acute, left holohemispheric subdural hematoma. A neurosurgeon performed an evacuation of the hematoma via a craniotomy. For the next 10 days, Salem remained in the intensive-care unit. He was eventually discharged from the hospital to a skilled nursing facility, where he resided as his condition deteriorated. Salem died on Nov. 11, 2019. He was 81, and was survived by his wife, adult son and adult daughter. Salem’s family sought recovery of wrongful death damages. His estate also sought recovery of $123,251.10 in past, paid medical costs. Defense counsel denied Salem’s cause of death was attributable to the incident. Counsel contended that Salem was a wheelchair user since May 2015, as he had suffered a debilitating stroke and had a variety of other chronic illnesses prior to the subject incident. Counsel also contended that Salem was back at the nursing facility after the incident for nine months and was making good progress, but that Salem’s health took a turn after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in November 2019. Specifically, defense counsel contended that after Salem was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Salem became dehydrated and was not eating as much and that when Salem did eat, Salem had problems with swallowing. Counsel further contended that Salem had problems with asphyxiation and that Salem’s death certificate listed respiratory failure as a cause of death. As such, defense counsel asserted that Salem’s decline in health was due to his Parkinson’s disease and not the subject incident.
Superior Court of San Mateo County, San Mateo, CA

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