Case details

Pedestrian claimed inattentive driver of taxicab struck him




Mediated Settlement

Result type

Not present

ankle, brain, brain injury, chest, chest pain, concussion, disfigurement, fracture, head, hemopneumothorax, leg, popping, rib, ribs, right ankle, scar, sprain, strain, swelling
At approximately 10:50 p.m. on Oct. 3, 2014, plaintiff David Harrison, 24, an employment recruiter, and four friends were walking across Bay Street, at the intersection with Buchanan Street, in San Francisco. The group was walking south in a clearly marked pedestrian crosswalk, toward Lombard Street. From curb-to-curb, Bay Street is 80 feet wide, consisting of two lanes east, two lanes west, and curb-side parking lanes and bike lanes on each side of the street. Harrison and his friends were almost completely across Bay Street, approximately 64 feet across, when an eastbound taxicab struck into Harrison while traveling between 30 and 40 mph. Harrison was thrown onto the hood and then into the windshield, before falling down onto the pavement about 15 feet east of the point of impact. He subsequently sustained to his head, ribs, a leg, and an ankle. Harrision sued the driver of the taxi, Raymond Rodriguez, and the owner of the taxi, Rodriguez’s employer, Arrow Checker Cab. Harrison alleged that Rodriguez was negligent in the operation of the taxi and that Arrow Checker Cab was vicariously liable for Rodriguez’s actions. Plaintiff’s counsel asserted that Rodriguez was inattentive and failed to yield the right of way to pedestrians in a crosswalk. Plaintiff’s counsel noted that there was an illuminated overhead street light and a large pedestrian crossing sign facing west for eastbound vehicular traffic. Counsel also noted that Harrison and his friends had attended an event at Fort Mason known as “Off the Grid,” where food and beverages are purchased from various food trucks. Harrison recalled drinking two beers at the Blue Light on Lombard Street before going to Fort Mason, but did not recall whether he drank alcohol at Off the Grid because he has holes in his memory of that evening and doesn’t even remember being struck by the taxicab. However, plaintiff’s counsel asserted that there was no evidence that Harrison was impaired or did anything to contribute to the collision. Plaintiff’s counsel contended Rodriguez’s taxi slowed, stopped briefly, and then left the scene. Rodriguez called dispatch at the cab company, circled the block, and returned to the scene. Plaintiff’s counsel noted that when interviewed by the police, Rodriguez claimed that he saw six or seven people running across the street before he hit something, but that he thought he struck a box. Rodriguez further told the police that he continued to drive, but returned to the scene when he didn’t see a box and noticed that his windshield was cracked. He claimed that when he returned, he saw people around Harrison. The four witnesses told the officer that Rodriguez’s cab was traveling between 30 and 40 mph and that the cab did not slow before hitting Harrison. Rodriguez testified at deposition that he did not see pedestrians in the crosswalk, did not know or remember his speed, did not see anybody running in the crosswalk, and was looking straight ahead. In response, plaintiff’s counsel contended that Rodriguez’s deposition contradicted his statement to the police. Counsel also asserted that Rodriguez’s statement to the police appears to have been concocted in an attempt to lay blame on the pedestrians for “running” and to absolve himself., Harrison was taken by ambulance in full spinal precautions to the trauma center at San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, in San Francisco. He had pain to the right side of his chest, abdomen, left leg, and right ankle. An examination revealed a left, lower leg deformity; right ankle swelling; and multiple abrasions to the right side of his face, chest, shoulder, elbow, forearm, abdomen, knee, and toes. Multiple X-rays and CT scans were done, revealing six rib fractures on the right side; complex fractures of the left tibia (a long oblique proximal fracture and a transverse distal fracture); contusions to the right upper and middle lung lobes; hemopneumothorax; a contusion to the right kidney; a contusion to the right side of his liver; and a right adrenal hemorrhage. The left, lower leg was splinted, and Harrison was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit, where he received intravenous sedatives and pain medication, as well as nasal cannula oxygen. Surgery, under general anesthesia, occurred the next day to reduce and repair the tibia fractures. After the fractures were reduced, an incision was made at the knee since the patellar tendon was split, exposing the proximal end of the tibia at the knee joint. The end of the bone was penetrated, and a guide wire and reamer were inserted, which were advanced through the length of the bone and through the fracture sites. The bone was then reamed to allow the placement of the intramedullary rod, or nail, which was hammered into place inside the length of the bone. Incisions were then made at both ends of the tibia, holes were drilled into the bone, and screws were inserted to secure the rod in place. The incisions were then closed and a large dressing placed over the lower leg. Harrison was subsequently kept in the ICU until Oct. 7, 2014. During that time, he was bedridden, had a chest tube for the hemopneumothorax, had a nasal cannula to maintain oxygenation and to prevent respiratory distress, had a peripherally inserted central catheter through which fluids and narcotic pain medication were administered, had a patient controlled analgesic (PCA) for as-needed pain medication, had a Foley catheter for voiding, and had a large bulky surgical dressing over the left leg, which remained elevated. On Oct. 7, 2014, the PCA was discontinued, but the IV narcotic pain medications of Percocet and Dilaudid were still necessary. An attempt was also made to discontinue the Foley catheter, but Harrison could not yet void urine, so it was reinserted until Oct. 10, 2014. Harrison then remained bed-bound and began to experience episodes of tachycardia (abnormally high heart rate), which was thought to be related to pain from attempts to sit in bed. On Oct. 8, 2014, it was discovered that Harrison had acquired Clostridium difficile colitis, and Flagyl, an oral antibiotic, was started. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that the infection, in the setting of a kidney injury, was worrisome because of the risk of dehydration and kidney failure. It also carried with it a risk of intestinal tract perforation and systemic infection, which can lead to death. As a result, Harrison continued to be treated with Flagyl even after his hospital discharge, and the infection eventually cleared. Harrison attempted assisted standing again on Oct. 9, 2014, but it allegedly caused severe increased leg pain and tachycardia. The next day, his left foot was placed into a multipodus boot, which is used to prevent foot drop in bedridden patients. The nasal cannula was also discontinued, but a chest X-ray showed a persistent small area of pneumothorax. The Foley catheter was discontinued as well. Harrison then successfully transitioned from sitting on the edge of the bed to standing with a four-wheel walker. However, he claimed that this caused a spike in leg pain and nausea, even though he did not bear weight on the leg. At this time, Harrison was still receiving IV Dilaudid plus Tylenol/Ibuprofen for pain. Percocet was discontinued because it caused emesis and on Oct. 11, 2014, the chest tube was removed. Harrison was also able to ambulate 25 feet using a four-wheel-walker, but without bearing weight on the left leg. On Oct. 15, 2014, Harrison was able to ambulate 50 feet using crutches, but without bearing weight on the left leg. He was determined to be “independent” with bed mobility and use of the walker and crutches, but he still needed one person to assist with the tasks. As a result, he was discharged from the hospital and taken by his mom to his parents’ home in Auburn, so that he could receive continued assistance in activities of daily living and rehabilitation. On this day, a nursing note described him as having a multipodus boot on the left, lower extremity, and multiple abrasions on the right chest and abdomen, with flank scabbing. The discharge medication list consisted of Flagyl for the C. dif. gastrointestinal infection, Gabapentin for neuropathic pain, Oxycodone for pain every six hours or as needed, and Ibuprofen three times a day with meals for pain. Harrison underwent rehabilitation from Oct. 15, 2014 to Jan. 10, 2015, including 11 physical therapy sessions. An examination on Jan. 6, 2015, revealed that Harrison’s ankle swelling had previously resolved, but that he still had quad and calf atrophy, and restricted range of motion to his ankle. X-rays showed healing fractures and repeat X-rays on March 31, 2015, showed no new fractures or complications with the implanted hardware. Harrison was told to continue Tylenol for pain. A last visit with Harrison’s surgeon occurred Sept. 29, 2015. At that time, some loss of range of motion to his ankle and occasional aches and pains to the left lower leg were noted. As a result, he was encouraged to do all normal activities. X-rays showed increased sclerosis and callus formation at both proximal and distal fracture sites consistent with healing. Harrison was ultimately out of work for 14 weeks. He claimed that as a result, he suffered $15,615.32 in lost earnings based on his normal weekly rate. Harrison required a fracture boot for assisted walking for three months, even when he returned to work in mid-January 2015. He claimed that he still has a sore right shoulder, popping in the right ankle, and left, lower leg pain and swelling with activity, such as during prolonged walking and attempts at jogging. Harrison claimed that he used to play recreational basketball, but the pain and swelling that occur with running and jumping prevents that activity at present and the future is uncertain with regard to whether the pain and swelling associated with the activity will completely resolve. The plaintiff’s physical medicine expert recommended continued sedentary work; no climbing; no repetitive reaching with Harrison’s right, upper extremity; no crawling or kneeling; no prolonged standing; no prolonged walking; and stretching every hour. Defense counsel contended that Harrison made an excellent recovery, and has virtually no residuals or limitations.
Superior Court of San Francisco County, San Francisco, CA

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