Case details

Pedestrian walking in middle of road caused accident: defense





Result type

Not present

arm, brain, fracture, leg, tibia, traumatic brain injury
After midnight on Jan. 1, 2014, plaintiff David Crabtree, a 43-year-old unemployed man, was standing in the middle of a rural road, in Fresno County, with his arms extended at shoulder height when he was struck by a tractor-trailer operated by Manuel Cruz. Crabtree had his back to the oncoming truck, and he sustained to his head, left arm and right leg. Crabtree sued Cruz and Cruz’s employer, the owner of the tractor-trailer, Foster Poultry Farms. Crabtree alleged that Cruz was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that Foster Poultry Farms was vicariously liable for Cruz’s actions. At trial, Crabtree took responsibility for drinking alcohol, and smoking methamphetamine and marijuana, but denied liability for the accident, as he claimed he did not remember what happened. Crabtree’s counsel contended that Cruz was at least comparatively at fault for failing to use his high beams and for overdriving his headlights, in that Cruz was not able to stop inside the illuminated area ahead of him. Counsel argued that if Cruz had been using his high beams or driving slower, Cruz would have seen Crabtree in the roadway sooner and been able to avoid striking him. As a result, plaintiff’s counsel argued that Foster Farms was at least 70 percent at fault for the accident. Defense counsel noted that, prior to the incident, Crabtree left a party after drinking alcohol, and smoking methamphetamine and marijuana and that Crabtree decided to walk 23 miles to his home. Counsel also noted that, later that evening, after walking 13 miles, Crabtree stood in the middle of the dark, rural road and that all experts agreed that Cruz was traveling approximately 45 to 50 mph on a road with a 55 mph speed limit. Defense counsel denied that Cruz was liable for the accident, and contended that Crabtree was obstructing the roadway and took no evasive action even though he allegedly heard and saw the tractor-trailer approaching. The defense’s experts opined that if Crabtree took one step away from where he was standing, he would not have been struck, as he was clipped by the far edge of the truck, including the side of the truck and possibly the side of the fender. Defense counsel argued that Cruz saw an obstacle in the roadway and took evasive action, but that Cruz was unable to avoid striking Crabtree. Counsel also argued that Cruz was not required to use his high beams and that Cruz did not overdrive his headlights. Defense counsel further argued that Crabtree was exclusively at fault because he was obstructing others’ free use of the roadway and that Crabtree was either hallucinating from intoxication or was intentionally trying to commit suicide., Crabtree claimed that he has no memory of the accident and that he last remembers walking along the roadway. He sustained a traumatic brain injury, and fractures to his left arm’s ulna and right leg’s tibia. Crabtree was taken to a hospital, where his were treated. Crabtree claimed he will require a future right leg amputation. The parties stipulated that Crabtree’s past medical expenses totaled approximately $245,000, and Crabtree claimed that his future medical expenses will total approximately $900,000. In addition to his medical expenses, Crabtree sought recovery of $2 million in damages for his past pain and suffering, and $4 million to $6 million in damages for his future pain and suffering.
Superior Court of Fresno County, Fresno, CA

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