Case details

Plaintiff claimed injuries from crash left him disabled





Result type

Not present

back, brain, brain injury, cognition, concentration, emotional distress, head, impairment, limited cognitive deficits, lower back, mental, pelvis pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychological, PTSD, traumatic brain injury
In June 2012, plaintiff Morgan Hunt, 35, a retail sales representative for Frito-Lay, was driving a step van truck on northbound El Capitan Avenue, in Fresno, while in the course and scope of his employment. As he proceeded into the intersection with West Shaw Avenue, his vehicle was struck by a pickup truck operated by Christopher Hoffman, who was traveling on westbound West Shaw Avenue. The impact caused Hunt’s truck to be pushed west into another pickup truck, which had also entered the intersection adjacent to Hunt’s truck. All three vehicles were totaled in the crash, and Hunt claimed to his head and lower back. Hunt sued Hoffman and what was believed to be Hoffman’s employer, California Commercial Works. Hunt alleged that Hoffman was negligent in the operation of his pickup truck and that California Commercial Works was liable for Hoffman’s actions. However, it was ultimately determined during the trial that California Commercial Works was not really a separate entity and that Hoffman was simply a “doing business as” California Commercial Works. Thus, the trial continued against Hoffman only. Hunt claimed that he was stopped for a red light on northbound El Capitan Avenue and that he only proceeded into the intersection as his light turned green. Hoffman stipulated to being liable for causing the collision., Hunt, who was wearing a 3-point safety belt, suffered a laceration to the left side of his head as a result of contact with a metal seat-belt bracket. He also claimed that the impact caused him to suffer a mild traumatic brain injury. In addition, he claimed immediate pain to his lower back and pelvis. Hunt was subsequently transported via ambulance to Community Regional Medical Center, in Fresno, where he was treated and released the same day. During the next three months, Hunt worked limited duty until early September 2012, when he was placed on total temporary disability. He remained off work for six months, during which time he underwent a right inguinal surgery to remove a cystocele and repair a lipoma cord hernia, which Hunt also attributed to the collision. He then returned to unrestricted work on March 25, 2013. However, Hunt claimed that over the course of the next 16 months, he continued to suffer increasing lower back pain and emotional stress at home and at work. He alleged that his stress were due to delays and denial of treatment within the workers’ compensation system. Hunt was ultimately diagnosed by a neuropsychologist with post-traumatic stress disorder and limited cognitive deficits, such as problems with memory and concentration. As a result, he was again placed on total temporary disability in August 2014, and remained off work through the trial. The plaintiff’s accident reconstruction expert determined an impact speed of 30 mph and a delta-v at the driver’s position of between 16 and 19 mph. Defense counsel disputed the nature and extent of Hunt’s economic and non-economic damages. Specifically, defense counsel argued that Hunt had fully recovered from his as of March 22, 2013, when he had returned to work. Counsel contended that Hunt’s recovery was demonstrated by his own deposition testimony in October 2013 and by the fact that he continued to work without any restrictions for 16 months. Defense counsel further contended that Hunt’s alleged emotional issues first manifested in October/November of 2013, well after the subject accident and well after Hunt’s return to work. Thus, counsel argued that Hunt’s alleged emotional issues were not caused by the subject collision. Defense counsel contended that, instead, the emotional issues were solely due to Hunt’s anger and frustration with his employer and worker’s compensation. In addition, defense counsel denied that Hunt suffered a traumatic brain injury.
Superior Court of Fresno County, Fresno, CA

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