Case details

Parties dispute liability after both vehicles changed lanes





Result type

Not present

back, cardiac, foot, heart foot, heel, neck
On Oct. 16, 2010, plaintiff Danny Colburn, 57, an owner of a business that installed and repaired signs, was driving his 1980 Volvo work truck, which contained a big crane he used to repair and/or install signs, in the number three lane on southbound Interstate 880, a five lane highway in Santa Clara County. He eventually attempted to change lanes into the number two lane, located on his left, when his front, right bumper collided with the rear, left bumper of a 2010 Toyota Prius operated by Michael Lee. Colburn initially claimed to his foot, neck and back. Colburn sued Michael Lee and the owners of the Prius, Michael Lee’s parents, Myongson Lee and Bruce Lee. Colburn alleged that Michael Lee was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that his parents were vicariously liable for his actions. Michael Lee’s insurance carrier, IDS Property Casualty Insurance Co., brought a separate action against Colburn, alleging that Colburn was negligent in the operation of his vehicle. The matters were ultimately consolidated, and Michael Lee’s parents were later dismissed from the case. Colburn contended that Lee unexpectedly and quickly swerved into his lane in front of his truck, giving him no opportunity to avoid rear-ending Michael Lee’s vehicle. The plaintiff’s accident reconstruction expert testified that the impact occurred when Lee’s vehicle was partially in the number three lane and partially in the number two lane, in the midst of changing lanes. Michael Lee contended that he was in the number three lane when he came upon an accident in the same lane, causing him to change into the number two lane prior to the collision. He claimed that when he decided to change lanes, Colburn was still in the number three lane. The Lee’s accident reconstruction expert opined that both vehicles changed lanes at approximately the same time and that Lee’s vehicle was centered in the number two lane for one or two seconds before the impact. Lee’s counsel noted that the investigating police officer testified that Michael Lee stated he had to quickly change into the number two lane to avoid colliding with the stopped vehicle in front of him., Colburn initially claimed to his neck, back and right foot. However, a few months after the accident, Colburn presented to a physician whose medical record indicated that Colburn stated that his foot injury was from a fishing accident after the subject collision. As a result, Colburn withdrew all of his physical-injury claims, except for claiming heart palpitations at the scene. Colburn claimed that his 1980 Volvo truck, which he used for work to repair and/or install signs, sustained property damage that he repaired himself. He alleged that the repairs took three weeks and that he lost $15,000 to $93,750 in income from his business because the subject truck was the only one available that could be utilized to do some of the work he did. However, his loss-of-income claim was withdrawn before closing arguments. Accordingly, Colburn sought recovery of $2,400 in property damage and damages for the loss of use of the truck for three weeks at a rate of $1,500 a day, which was what he claimed it would cost to rent the same type of vehicle. Lee’s counsel did not contest Colburn’s heart palpitations, but contended that he did not present credible evidence as to general damages or rental costs of the replacement vehicle. Counsel also contended that there was also no evidence that Colburn would have actually used a rental vehicle during the three weeks he claimed. Lee’s counsel also contended that Colburn was claiming damages for things that were unrelated to the property damages sustained in the subject accident and that Colburn’s business could have continued with other things that did not require the subject vehicle. Counsel for IDS Property Casualty Insurance sought recovery of $17,165.13 in in property damage to Lee’s vehicle, as it was totaled.
Superior Court of Alameda County, Oakland, CA

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