Case details

Passenger claimed arm injuries from bus’s sudden stop





Result type

Not present

arm, back, crush, fracture, left distal radius, right proximal humerus, shoulder
On June 29, 2012, plaintiff Kim Uren, 53, s resident of Australia who was vacationing in California with her husband, was a passenger on a coach bus that was traveling on the westbound side of the San Francisco-Oakland Bridge, heading toward San Francisco. Uren and her husband were seated in the back row of the bus, directly in front of the bus’s center aisle. The seats lacked seat belts or any other type of restraints. As a result, Uren was allegedly lurched forward from her seat when the bus stopped suddenly after a vehicle stalled on the westbound side of the San Francisco-Oakland Bridge and its driver, Christopher Turner, exited the vehicle in the shoulder lane. Uren subsequently landed on the center aisle floor and allegedly sustain to her back and an arm. Uren sued the bus’s owner, CUSA FL, LLC, and the buses’ driver, Walter Zwicker. Uren alleged that Zwicker was negligent in the operation of the coach bus and that CUSA FL, LLC was vicariously liable for Zwicker’s actions. Uren originally sued Turner and a number of other entities that were believed to be affiliated with the buses’ operator, but the parties were dismissed without prejudice. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that Zwicker was not focused on the road in front of him and had become distracted by talking with passengers seated behind him. Counsel contended that when Zwicker’s attention returned to the road, he saw Turner’s vehicle stopped and slammed on his brakes, causing the bus to make a sudden stop without warning to the passengers. Plaintiff’s counsel asserted that if Zwicker was paying attention to the road in front of him, he could have brought the vehicle to a slow and gradual stop and, thus, would not have slammed on the bus’s brakes. Defense counsel contended that Zwicker performed an evasive maneuver and avoided striking Turner’s vehicle. Thus, counsel asserted that Zwicker acted reasonably given the circumstances of the incident and that Turner was negligent for failing to pull over further from the right lane of traffic., Uren sustained a displaced fracture of her right proximal humerus, a fracture of her left distal radius, and an anterior crush fracture of the L2 intervertebral disc in her lower back. She was subsequently transported by ambulance to the emergency room at San Francisco General Hospital, in San Francisco, where she complained of pain in her arms. Uren was diagnosed with the fracture of the left distal radius at the hospital. She then underwent an X-ray of her right shoulder on July 5, 2012, and was diagnosed with the comminuted, displaced fracture of the right proximal humerus. The next day, Uren underwent an open reduction and internal fixation surgery with the placement of hardware to her upper arm at St. Mary’s Medical Center, in San Francisco. On July 19, 2012, three weeks after the accident, Uren was given medical clearance to return to Australia, and she was instructed to follow up with an orthopedist. Upon her return to Australia, Uren began a course of physical therapy treatment. On Aug. 13, 2012, Uren presented to her orthopedist’s office and underwent X-rays, which revealed a localized degenerative narrowing of the lumbosacral region and symmetrical compression of the left superior endplate of the L2 vertebrae. The diagnosis also included an assessment of the L2 vertebrae and the X-ray revealed that the L2 intervertebral disc had lost approximately 20 percent of its height anterolateral, which resulted in a mild curve of the lumbar spine, which is convex to the right. With the healing of her shoulder, Uren began to develop Keloid scarring and thickening at the surgical incision site. However, by Oct. 25, 2012, her left wrist had become her primary complaint. She claimed that, for the most part, she has been unable to use her left arm as she continues to have difficulties using her left wrist when performing daily activities and lifting heavy objects. She also claimed that she continues to suffer from a decreased range of motion in her left wrist, and tenderness and soreness, which are pervasive. The plaintiff’s treating orthopedist opined that Uren’s back injury was caused by the accident. He opined that Uren’s wrist injury is permanent and that Uren will most likely require a full wrist replacement or wrist fusion procedure. The treating orthopedist also opined that the hardware in Uren’s right arm could be removed. Uren’s husband, plaintiff Martin Uren, then in his 50s, brought a derivative claim seeking recovery of damages for his loss of consortium. Defense counsel asserted that Ms. Uren made a good recovery form her and that she was able to return to work despite her alleged residual limitations. However, counsel also asserted that Ms. Uren was exaggerating the nature, extent, and severity of her residual .
Superior Court of San Francisco County, San Francisco, CA

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