Case details

Passenger claimed bus driver failed to secure his wheelchair




Mediated Settlement

Result type

Not present

ankle, fusion
On Nov. 2, 2010, the plaintiff, a 48-year-old man in a wheelchair, entered an eastbound bus in order to head toward his destination in Long Beach. The man was using a wheelchair because he had had four prior surgeries on his right ankle and was still recovering from the most recent ankle surgery. After entering the bus, he locked his wheelchair in place. However, he claimed the trip caused him to be thrown around, resulting in a shoulder injury and an aggravation of his right ankle injury. The plaintiff sued the bus company for the alleged negligence of its driver. The plaintiff claimed that after he entered the bus, the bus driver failed to strap him in. He also claimed that the driver quickly swerved into the inward lane in order to pick up two women and that the sudden stop of the bus caused him to be pushed forward. The plaintiff alleged that his initial reaction to the inertia was to raise his right arm and attempt to stop himself from crashing into a plastic plaque that was in front of him. However, he claimed that by doing this, he “popped” his right shoulder. The plaintiff claimed that at this time, he requested that the driver be more careful, but that as the bus continued on its route and approached a yellow light, the driver braked instantly. He alleged that as a result, he attempted to use his left foot to prevent himself from crashing into the plastic plaque once again, but that his right foot hit the metal secure straps on the floor, which were supposed to be utilized for his wheelchair. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that the bus company’s driver was negligent for failing to secure the plaintiff’s wheelchair appropriately into the straps. Counsel also contended that after the first incident, the driver should have offered the plaintiff assistance or secured the wheelchair with the straps at that time. However, the plaintiff claimed that the driver refused to offer him assistance, even after the first incident. He also claimed that as the bus ride began, a few passengers that were conversing with him speculated as to the reason for the driver’s foul mood and concluded that “she’s having a bad day.” Defense counsel contended that the driver asked the plaintiff if he wanted to be strapped in, but that the plaintiff refused and, instead, requested that the bus driver proceed after he locked his wheelchair in place. Thus, counsel asserted that the bus company had no obligation to strap the plaintiff in place after he refused the securements. Defense counsel further contended that the driver called in the plaintiff as a handicap, and provided him all assistance pursuant to the bus company’s protocol. In addition, defense counsel asserted that the plaintiff had multiple felonies and was not credible., The plaintiff claimed a labral tear of his right shoulder, which he associated with the movement of his wheelchair in the bus. After the subject incident, the plaintiff proceeded with a right ankle fusion on July 13, 2011, and surgery on his right shoulder on May 17, 2011, which included a right shoulder decompression and distal clavicle resection. Although the ankle fusion surgery was recommended prior to the bus incident, the plaintiff claimed that his ankle condition, which had previously undergone four surgeries, was aggravated as a result of being thrown around inside the bus. Thus, the plaintiff claimed that his total related medical specials were under $20,000, and sought recovery for his pain and suffering. Defense counsel asserted that the plaintiff’s medical records indicated that he was recommended for the ankle fusion surgery prior to the subject incident because his ankle had not fused properly from the prior right ankle fusions. Counsel also asserted that the plaintiff had prior shoulder complaints that predated the subject accident, and that the alleged incident did nothing to aggravate the injury.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Long Beach, CA

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