Case details

Passenger claimed her cab was struck by other driver





Result type

Not present

back, brain, brain injury, chest, concussion, fracture, head, neck, rib, traumatic brain injury, vertebra
On Jan. 4, 2011, plaintiff Christine Diamond, 33, an actuary for a defined benefits company, was a fee-paying passenger in a Honda Accord Yellow Cab operated by Amir Mansouri. Diamond claimed that Mansouri attempted an illegal U-turn on California Street at the intersection with Cherry Street, in the city and county of San Francisco, when the Accord was struck by a Chevy operated by Serge Reshko. Diamond sustained a traumatic brain injury, fractured ribs and vertebrae, and alleged ongoing physical and mental problems. Diamond sued Mansouri; the owner of the Honda Mansouri was operating, Antonin Mastalir; Mansouri’s employer, Yellow Cab Cooperative Inc.; Mr. Reshko; and the owner of Mr. Reshko’s vehicle Valentina Reshko. Diamond alleged that Mansouri and Mr. Reshko were negligent in the operation of their respective vehicles. She also alleged that Yellow Cab was vicariously liable for Mansouri’s actions and that Ms. Reshko was vicariously liable for Mr. Reshko’s actions. Prior to trial, Mansouri, Mastalir and Yellow Cab settled out of the case for $400,000. The Reshkos’ prior counsel, who conducted all regular discoveries, opposed the good faith settlement application and sought full credit for the settlement with Yellow Cab, along with an order for the court to note to the jury at trial that Yellow Cab had settled. The court deferred to the trial court on these matters. At trial, the Reshkos’ counsel brought motions in limine regarding the issues regarding Yellow Cab’s settlement. The court stated that it would not grant the motions or tell the jury that Yellow Cab had settled, and that it would make the credit determination after the verdict. Diamond claimed that she was leaving a hospital’s newborn Intensive Care Unit after visiting her prematurely delivered son, who she gave birth to seven weeks prior to the subject accident. She contended that Mr. Reshko was negligent for speeding and running a red light, and an eyewitness supported her contentions. Mr. Reshko claimed the accident was primarily the fault of Yellow Cab because its employee, Mansouri, had made an illegal U-turn directly in front of him. However, the Reshkos’ counsel argued that if Mr. Reshko was determined to be negligent, then Yellow Cab should be found two-thirds at fault for the accident. Yellow Cab, Mansouri and Mastalir, as a condition of the settlement with Diamond, was required to attend the trial so that there would not be an “empty chair” defense by the Reshkos. Thus, counsel for Yellow Cab, Mansouri and Mastalir argued that Mansouri was not negligent, but that if Mansouri was found negligent, he should not be found more than 25 percent liable for the accident. Prior to Yellow Cab’s closing argument, the Reshkos’ counsel objected and argued to the court, as he had also done prior to trial, that Yellow Cab should not be afforded the same status as the Reshko defendants because Yellow Cab was not a real defendant in the case, but was actually an extension of the plaintiff. Reshkos’ counsel also argued that because Yellow Cab had settled, it could do nothing further for itself, and only served to hurt and prejudice the Reshko defendants, all disingenuously in the guise of a defendant and all to the support of the plaintiff. Counsel for the Reshko defendants contended that this was shown by Diamond’s counsel essentially adopting Yellow Cab’s counsel’s prior accident reconstruction expert, while providing no other liability expert. However, Judge Peter Busch did not place any restrictions on Yellow Cab at trial., Diamond sustained a traumatic brain injury, bilateral fractures of the first ribs, a fracture of the T3 transverse process, and a compression fracture of the thoracic spine at T3-4. She also sustained multiple lacerations and contusions. Diamond was subsequently taken to a hospital, and required immobilization and drug therapy for an extended period of time. Plaintiffs’ counsel presented photographs of the totaled Yellow Cab vehicle that Diamond was a passenger in at the time of the accident. The photographs were allegedly dramatic, in that they revealed a large hole in the passenger area as a result of the impact. Diamond’s treating neurosurgeon testified that Diamond had on-going pain in her thoracic spine for years after the accident and that as a result, Diamond would require years of physical therapy and other treatment down the road. He further testified that he knew a patient who had such an injury with symptoms that lasted for 20 years and opined that Diamond’s symptoms would likely last as long as this other patient. The plaintiff’s treating spinal surgeon testified that Diamond had post-traumatic arthritis and opined that Diamond’s condition would never get better. He also opined that Diamond would require surgery in 10 to 15 years, as well as other invasive procedures and medications for years. Diamond claimed that she suffers ongoing pain in the mid-thoracic back, near the area of the compression fracture. She alleged that her prevented her from carrying out normal motherly tasks for months, including nursing her son. She also alleged she missed almost one year of work as an actuary, in which she earned in excess of $200,000 per year. In addition, the plaintiff’s treating psychiatrist testified that Diamond had been deprived of her motherhood experience due to her back . He also opined that Diamond suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Thus, Diamond sought recovery of almost $2.2 million in total damages. She sought recovery of $779,301 in economic damages, which included past medical costs, child care costs, and lost earnings and benefits, as well as potential future medical costs. She also sought recovery of $7.2 million in general damages for her past and future pain and suffering. Diamond’s husband, Andrew Diamond, sought recovery of $200,000 in damages for his past and future loss of consortium. Counsel for Yellow Cab argued that the Diamonds should be awarded more than $800,000, including speculative future medical costs of $150,000, future general damages of $150,000 and loss-of-consortium damages of $50,000. The Reshkos’ counsel contended that Ms. Diamond’s past and future economic and non-economic damages should be limited to $300,000. The defense’s expert psychiatrist disputed the plaintiffs’ psychiatric expert’s PTSD opinion. Instead, the defense’s expert opined that Ms. Diamond did not have PTSD from the accident, but had some anxiety and depressive symptoms that, by the end of 2011, were likely no longer from the accident, but rather from other events in Ms. Diamond’s life. The defense’s expert orthopedic surgeon — who was hired by Yellow Cab’s counsel, but called by the Reshkos’ counsel at trial – opined that Ms. Diamond’s likely healed in the month of the accident and that by the end of the year, Ms. Diamond could work full time. The expert further opined that no further treatment was required.
Superior Court of San Francisco County, San Francisco, CA

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