Case details

Pedestrian stuck by light rail vehicle suffered severe injuries





Result type

Not present

anterior acetabular fracture, facial fractures, pelvic fractures, rib fracture, right hip fracture, skull fractures, traumatic brain injury
On Feb 28, 2012, plaintiff Brynn Stoll, 26, a former U.S. Army soldier attending college on the G.I. Bill, was using the crosswalk connecting 19th Avenue and Junipero Serra Boulevard, in San Francisco. Just before crossing the northbound lanes of 19th Avenue with a pedestrian walk signal, Stoll was struck by an inbound M-Ocean View municipal light-rail vehicle. Stoll sustained a severe brain injury in the accident. Brynn Stoll, by and through her guardian ad litem, Barbara Stoll, sued the operator of the light-rail vehicle, Andre Richardson; the driver’s employer, the city and county of San Francisco; and the maintainer of the intersection, the State of California, Department of Transportation (Caltrans). Brynn Stoll alleged that Richardson was negligent in the operation of the light rail and that the city and county were vicariously liable for Richardson’s actions. She also alleged that Caltrans and the city and county were negligent in the maintenance of the intersection, creating a dangerous condition. Michael Stoll was never officially appointed as Brynn Stoll’s guardian ad litem, but his name remained in the case caption. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that, contrary to his training, Richardson proceeded forward on, at best, a stale yellow light and that the light was red for at least seven seconds when Richardson collided with Brynn Stoll. Counsel also contended that the intersection in question, as well as the crosswalk, constituted a dangerous condition of public property due to a combination of issues. Specifically, plaintiff’s counsel asserted that there was insufficient pedestrian refuge, inappropriate two-stage pedestrian crossing, insufficient pedestrian crossing time, visual obstructions, an inappropriate physical crosswalk layout with a 50-degree skew, and inappropriate traffic signal phasing and timing. Thus, counsel asserted that Counsel for Richardson and the city and county of San Francisco asserted that Richardson had entered the intersection in a legal manner and that Stoll was negligent for entering the crosswalk against the traffic signal. Counsel also denied the existence of any dangerous condition. Counsel for the city and county subsequently moved for summary adjudication on the dangerous condition allegation on the grounds of design immunity. However, plaintiff’s counsel successfully opposed the motion, citing improper traffic light timing and phasing, a lack of proper warnings, and sight obstructions. Plaintiff’s counsel also argued that the city and county knew the intersection was dangerous from prior accidents and engineering studies, but failed to timely address the condition. Plaintiff’s counsel further argued that design immunity was not applicable because the city and county failed to obtain proper approval prior to modifying traffic signals at the intersection several years prior. Caltrans’ counsel moved for summary judgment, maintaining that the crosswalk was not dangerous and that Caltrans had no ownership or control over the accident site. However, plaintiff’s counsel also opposed Caltrans’ motion, arguing that the skew angle of the crosswalk created pedestrian visibility problems and that this contributed to the overall dangerous condition of the intersection. The court agreed with plaintiff’s counsel and also found that plaintiff’s counsel raised a triable issue of fact regarding Caltrans’ adjoining property., Brynn Stoll sustained a severe traumatic brain injury, multiple skull fractures (including a right temporoparietal open depressed skull fracture), extensive facial fractures, pelvic fractures, an anterior acetabular fracture of the right hip, a clavicle fracture, and multiple rib fractures. She was subsequently taken by ambulance to the emergency room of San Francisco General Hospital, in San Francisco, where she remained in a coma for five weeks and was intubated for several weeks until she underwent a tracheostomy. Stoll ultimately underwent several surgeries, including bilateral craniotomies. She was then transferred to Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center, in San Francisco, and had her tracheostomy removed upon her release in June 2013. She then underwent post-acute care at the Centre for Neuro Skills, in Bakersfield, where she eventually regained the ability to walk and made some cognitive and neurobehavioral progress. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that Stoll suffers from severe cognitive impairment and neurobehavioral sequelae. It is believed that Stoll will never fully recover from her and will require attendant care for the remainder of her life. Defense counsel did not deny the extent of Stoll’s .
Superior Court of San Francisco County, San Francisco, CA

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