Case details

Passenger claimed bus driver’s excessive speed caused injury





Result type

Not present

back, emotional distress, fracture, mental, psychological, severe back injury
On Aug. 27, 2011, plaintiff Maria Francisco, 21, a stay at home mom, was riding an Alameda-Contra Costa Transit bus with her daughter, plaintiff Mia Cisneros, 4, and other family members, plaintiffs Theresa Felipe and Guadalupe Pascual. While on the way to a shopping mall, the bus went over a speed hump, allegedly causing Francisco to be thrown up into the air and land with such force that it caused a severe back injury. Francisco, Mia, Felipe and Pascual sued the operator of the bus, Dollie Gilmore, and Gilmore’s employer, the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit). The plaintiffs alleged that Gilmore was negligent in the operation of the bus and that AC Transit was vicariously liable for its employee’s actions. Plaintiffs Felipe and Pascual were ultimately dismissed from the case. Plaintiffs’ counsel contended that Gilmore was speeding, causing the bus to go over a speed hump in a school zone at more than twice the legal speed limit. Counsel contended that as a result, Francisco was thrown up into the air and landed with such extreme force that it severely injured her back. Francisco claimed that despite her obvious distress, Gilmore began verbally attacking her, including accusing her of lying about her injury, and threatening her with prosecution. Mia claimed that she witnessed the entire incident and Gilmore’s subsequent threats. Plaintiffs’ counsel noted that the entire incident, including Gilmore’s conduct, was captured on videotape by AC Transit cameras. The defendants admitted liability two days before trial., Francisco claimed that she suffered a severe traumatic burst fracture of her L1 vertebra. She immediately cried out in pain, and her family called for an ambulance. Francisco ultimately underwent emergency spinal surgery, which was recommended and performed by physicians at John Muir Medical Center just days after the incident. She also underwent an emergency five-level spinal fusion, followed by surgery to clean out a necrotic infection. She then underwent hardware removal surgery and a secondary fusion surgery in April 2013. In addition, Francisco underwent more than 18 months of physical therapy. Francisco claimed that despite her surgeries and physical therapy, she still suffers from chronic pain and her range of motion is limited. She claimed that as a result, she is severely limited in her daily activities. Specifically, she alleged that she is unable to lift or carry heavy objects, or perform physical activities because such activities cause stress to her spine. In addition, Francisco alleged that she has been unable to work since the incident. Mia claimed that she suffers emotional distress as a result of witnessing her mother’s injury and Gilmore’s subsequent threats. She claimed that as a result, she suffers nightmares, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Defense counsel disputed the necessity of Francisco’s surgeries, including the emergency spinal surgery. Counsel also challenged Francisco’s damages — including Francisco’s alleged future medical expenses, loss of earnings, and pain and suffering — suggesting that Francisco was lying and/or exaggerating the nature of her injury.
Superior Court of Alameda County, Oakland, CA

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