Case details

Other tug operator’s inattention caused crash, plaintiff alleged





Result type

Not present

ankle, fracture, leg
On June 5, 2010, plaintiff Oscar Rodriguez, 21, an employee of Menzie’s Aviation, was operating an airport tug vehicle in a restricted area below gate 63 of the Los Angeles International Airport. At the same time, Ricky Joseph, a Delta Airlines employee, drove his airport tug out from behind storage containers, making a left hand turn and heading west, intersecting the tug path on which Rodriguez was traveling. As a result, Rodriguez hit his brakes and tried to swerve right to avoid the collision, but Joseph’s tug struck the front, left side of Rodriguez’s tug, causing Rodriguez’s left leg to be ejected from the vehicle. The impact then cased Joseph’s tug to rotate into Rodriguez’s tug, causing Rodriguez’s left foot and leg to be caught in between the two tugs, severely fracturing Rodriguez’s left ankle. Rodriguez sued Joseph; his employer, Delta Air Lines Inc.; and the property owner, Los Angeles World Airports. Rodriguez alleged that Joseph was negligent operation of his tug, and that Delta Air Lines was vicariously liable for his actions. He also alleged that Delta Air Lines and Los Angeles World Airports were generally negligent and liable for the area’s dangerous condition. Rodriguez claimed that Joseph failed to yield the right-of-way to him, causing the collision between the two tugs. He also claimed that Joseph drove blindly out from behind the storage containers and was looking down at a clipboard as he drove directly at him. Thus, he claimed that this inattention also contributed to the collision. Defense counsel contended that Joseph had the right-of-way and that Rodriguez had voluntarily placed his left leg on the side of his tug prior to the collision., Rodriguez severely fractured his left ankle. As a result, he was rushed from the scene by ambulance, and underwent emergency open reduction and internal fixation surgery to repair the comminuted fractures of his left ankle’s tibia and fibula. He then underwent one year of physical therapy, as well as an additional surgery to remove the residual hardware from the left tibia. Rodriguez has limitations and weakness in his left ankle. He was ultimately allowed to return to work on modified duty on April 4, 2012, with the restriction of no lifting greater than 50 pounds and no prolonged standing/walking for longer than two hours.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Torrance, CA

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