Case details

Motorcyclist claimed driver’s hesitation caused accident





Result type

Not present

arm, blunt force trauma to the head, femoral, fracture, head, hip, humerus hip, neck
On Jan. 19, 2011, plaintiff Stephen Symington, 33, an information technology support technician, was riding his motorcycle in the carpool lane on the San Diego Freeway, also known as Interstate 405, in Costa Mesa. The vehicle traveling in front of him was operated by Reuben Turtletaub. At 8:25 a.m., Turtletaub attempted to exit the carpool lane into the fast lane by crossing over the solid, double-yellow lines, but he stalled when he was not able to change lanes. As a result, Symington rode his motorcycle down to the ground in order to avoid colliding with Turtletaub’s vehicle. Symington subsequently claimed to his head, neck, and left hip and shoulder. Symington sued Turtletaub; Turtletaub’s employer, California Lighting Sales Inc.; and the owner of the rental vehicle that Turtletaub was operating, Beverly Star Car Rental Inc. Symington alleged that Turtletaub was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that Beverly Star Car Rental was vicariously liable for his actions. Symington also alleged that since Turtletaub was under the scope of his employment at the time of the accident, California Lighting was also vicariously liable for Turtletaub’s actions. Symington claimed that Turtletaub negligently attempted to cross over the solid, double-yellow lines, causing Turtletaub to hesitate and essentially create a wall with his vehicle. Symington claimed that as a result, he had nowhere to go and had to drive down his motorcycle in order to avoid colliding with Turtletaub’s vehicle. Thus, he claimed that Turtletaub’s negligent driving was the sole cause of the accident. Turtletaub claimed that he was only partly at fault for the collision, and that Symington was primarily at fault because he was speeding and attempting to pass on him on the right-hand side of his vehicle in an unsafe manner. Plaintiff’s counsel responded that Symington was not speeding, and that defense counsel did not have any evidence showing or proving that Symington was in any way at fault for the collision., Symington sustained a left femoral neck fracture, a left humeral neck fracture, blunt force trauma to the head and abdominal trauma. He was subsequently rushed by ambulance to an emergency room, where he underwent several surgeries and was hospitalized for approximately a week. For repair, Symington underwent open reduction with internal fixation of the left femoral neck fracture with the placement of hardware; open reduction with internal fixation of the left humerus fracture with hardware placed; a left hip revision with removal of hardware, and placement of a gamma nail and bone graft; a left hip bipolar hemiarthroplasty with a bone graft and removal of the gamma nail; and a left shoulder enthesopathy. However, due to nonunion of the left femoral neck fracture and the left intrascapular hip fracture, he required the removal of the hardware from the left humerus and left shoulder. Symington claimed that he is left with three unsightly scars to the left anterior deltoid and left hip, as well as chronic left hip/pelvic pain. He also claimed that one of his legs is now longer than the other. Symington further claimed that he will have to endure at least one additional surgery on his left arm, as well as a full hip replacement coupled with two possible future revision hip replacement surgeries. He alleged that as a result, he cannot bend more than 90 degrees, which will cause him to endure lifelong limitations to his once active lifestyle. Specifically, Symington claimed that he is no longer able to ride his motorcycle, walk for long periods of time or surf, which was his passion in life. However, he claimed that he was able to continue with his employment. Symington’s wife, Erin, claimed that she suffered serious emotional hardship as a result of the collision, causing her to lose the companionship of her husband and cause her to have to take on her husband’s duties at home. Thus, she sought recovery for her loss of consortium. Defense counsel argued that Mr. Symington would only need one future hip replacement surgery, and that Mr. Symington would not suffer any future lost earnings or a loss of earning capacity as a result of the collision. Counsel further argued that Mr. Symington’s future life care plan and past medical costs were excessive, and that Mrs. Symington’s loss of consortium claim was excessive.
Superior Court of Orange County, Orange, CA

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