Case details

Operator claimed plaintiff ran in front of light rail vehicle





Result type

Not present

fracture, leg
On March 4, 2010, at 9:45 p.m., plaintiff Wendy Tyler, 19, was at the intersection of San Jose Avenue and Farallones Street in San Francisco when she was struck by a moving light rail vehicle, which was operated by Teodoro Briones. Tyler was struck by the front of the train and dragged several feet, never losing consciousness. Tyler sued Briones, and the city and county of San Francisco. She alleged that Briones was negligent in the operation of the light rail vehicle and that the city and county were negligent for the intersection’s dangerous condition. The parties stipulated that Briones was in the course and scope of his employment at the time of the accident. Thus, Briones was dismissed from the case prior to the trial. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that Briones had plenty of time to see Tyler and could have stopped the light rail vehicle without striking her, but failed to do so. The subject T-intersection has eastbound through-traffic on Farallones Street, which terminates at north and southbound San Jose Avenue. The San Francisco Municipality Transportation Agency runs an inbound, or southbound, and outbound, or northbound, light-rail-vehicle line on San Jose Avenue in two lanes closest to the center of the street. Traffic is controlled by a stop sign for eastbound traffic on Farallones Street, and the traffic for north and southbound San Jose Avenue is uncontrolled. The San Jose Avenue/Farallones Street island is not a mandatory passenger stop for the light rail vehicle. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that the subject intersection contained a nearby light rail streetcar stop that was a dangerous condition. They claimed that a crosswalk was placed in the vicinity of a stop whereby individuals can cross when the light rail streetcar slows down before the intersection to pick up or drop off passengers. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that the intersection design was inadequately engineered and constructed so that it either did not warn the individuals that were trying to cross the intersection to reach the bus stop and/or it did not have safe guards to impede the pedestrian traffic. Defense counsel contended that Tyler darted into the street without looking and directly into the path of the approaching light rail vehicle. Counsel noted that Tyler’s actions were observed by a witness on the train who saw movement and believed it to be an animal running into the path of the moving train. Defense counsel further noted that Briones also saw movement from his left and immediately stopped the train. Both the witness and Briones claimed that they only realized that it was a person under the train when the accident was over. Defense counsel contended that Briones approached the passenger island at Farallones Street and San Jose Avenue, slowed down to look for passengers waiting there, and then proceeded across when she saw no one there. Counsel also contended that the light rail vehicle was almost in the middle of the intersection, between the two crosswalks, when Tyler started across the street and that Briones made a sudden stop when a shadowy figure darted into the street. Counsel further contended that Tyler was not in the crosswalk. Defense counsel noted that Tyler did not know where the light rail vehicle was when she started into the street, running to catch the light rail vehicle, and that she never looked after she was in the street. Thus, defense counsel argued that the design of the intersection, including the crosswalks, and Muni passenger islands, was approved by engineers within the Municipal Transportation Agency in advance of its implementation, and that the design conformed to accepted engineering standards, California traffic laws, and policy and sound engineering principles., Tyler was struck by the front of the train and dragged several feet, never losing consciousness. She sustained multiple pelvic fractures, a fractured femur and multiple abrasions. She subsequently underwent external and internal fixation, as well as rod placement, and spent two months in the hospital. Tyler still has plates and screws in her femur and pelvis. She claimed that she suffers from residual pain and walks with a limp, causing reduced activity. The plaintiff’s expert orthopedic surgeon testified that Tyler will need surgery to remove the hardware and she will have significant ambulation problems, as well. The defense’s expert orthopedic surgeon disputed the plaintiff’s expert’s testimony, opining that Tyler’s future residual problems would be modest and that there would be no need for additional surgeries.
Superior Court of San Francisco County, San Francisco, CA

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