Case details

Passenger claimed vehicle crash caused schizophrenia





Result type

Not present

brain, brain injury, mental, psychological, right shoulder, schizophrenia, traumatic brain injury
On May 22, 2009, plaintiff Msugh Williams, 18, was sleeping in the backseat of a vehicle driven by his friend, Yesenia Smerdon. Another friend, Jehu Mathews, was seated in the front passenger seat and an unknown female was seated in the backseat. As the vehicle was proceeding southbound on the 805 Freeway, near the Bonita Road undercrossing in San Diego, Smerdon asked Mathews to take control of the steering wheel while she removed her sweater. After Smerdon regained her grip on the steering wheel, the vehicle suddenly veered left and struck a concrete center divider. Williams injured his right shoulder and he claimed the crash caused him to develop a psychological condition. Williams sued Yesenia Smerdon and the owners of the vehicle, Yesenia Smerdon’s parents, Thomas and Karen Smerdon. Williams, who was acting in pro per, alleged that Yesenia Smerdon was negligent in the operation of the vehicle by failing to maintain control and that Yesenia Smerdon’s parents were vicariously liable for their daughter’s actions. The Smerdons brought a cross-claim against Mathews and Mathews’ legal guardian, Joseph Kidio. The Smerdons alleged that Mathews was contributorily negligent. Mathews and Kidio were then added as direct defendants., Williams complained of pain to his right shoulder and was subsequently admitted to the emergency room of University of California San Diego Medical Center. Williams informed his treating doctors that he had previously injured the shoulder, and he was treated and released with no further treatment. Approximately six months later, in November 2009, Williams began to exhibit symptoms of schizophrenia. As a result, he was intermittently institutionalized since that time. Williams claimed the collision caused his schizophrenia, resulting in uncontrollable, erratic behavior. Defense counsel was prepared to call an expert psychiatrist to dispute any relationship between any alleged head trauma and Williams’ schizophrenia.
Superior Court of San Diego County, San Diego, CA

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