Case details

Plaintiff claimed multiple vehicle crash caused brain injury





Result type

Not present

anxiety, brain, brain injury, cognition, depression, fracture, head, headaches, impairment, language, leg, limp, mental, psychological, sensory, skull, speech, traumatic brain injury
On Feb. 13, 2017, plaintiff Kara Flick, 38, a registered nurse, was driving on a freeway in Santa Maria when her vehicle was rear-ended by a vehicle operated by Francisco Reyes Jr. The impact caused Flick to lose control of her vehicle and collide with a third vehicle. Flick’s vehicle was then struck a second time by Reyes’ vehicle, that time on the driver’s side door, before coming to a rest at the center median. Flick claimed to her head. Flick sued Francisco Reyes Jr. and the owner of Reyes’ vehicle, Francisco Reyes Sr. Flick alleged that the younger Reyes was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that the elder Reyes was vicariously liable for his son’s actions. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that the younger Reyes borrowed his father’s vehicle three months before the subject accident, while visiting his father in Colorado, and that Reyes’ father allowed Reyes to drive home to California with the vehicle. Counsel contended that Reyes’ father lent his son the vehicle with the intention of picking it up when he came to visit his son in California. However, plaintiff’s counsel argued that on night in question, Reyes was under the influence of alcohol while driving on the freeway as a permissive user of the vehicle, traveling at a speed upwards of 102 mph, which ultimately resulted in the collision. Thus, counsel argued that Reyes’ father should have known that his son was not competent to operate his vehicle and that Reyes’ father was negligent in entrusting his vehicle to his son. The younger Reyes admitted liability, but the elder Reyes denied being negligent in the entrustment of his vehicle to his son as he was over 1,000 miles away at the time of the accident and had no knowledge that his son had consumed five beers before driving the vehicle. Defense counsel moved for nonsuit as to the elder Reyes, and the court granted the motion on the basis that there was no evidence produced of negligent entrustment., Flick claimed she sustained a basal skull fracture, resulting in a traumatic brain injury. She was taken to a hospital’s emergency room, where she complained of pain to her left side. However, her treating emergency room doctors stated that she had a normal neurological exam and no sign of head trauma. Flick then underwent an MRI 10 days after the collision, but it was normal. Despite the negative findings, she claimed she had the ongoing symptoms of a TBI. Flick claimed that she continues to experience a permanent stutter, a limp, headaches, cognitive impairment, depression, anxiety, and sensitivity to light and noise. She also claimed she suffers from social isolation and a change in her personality. Flick alleged that as a result of her condition, she will not be able to work for the rest of her life and that she will need a caregiver due to early onset of dementia. Flick waived her claims of past medical costs and past lost earnings. However, she sought recovery of $6,133,728 to $7,817,810 in future medical costs and $1,503,468 in future lost earnings. She also sought recovery of damages for her past and future pain and suffering. Plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award Flick $500,000 to $1 million per item of general damages. Defense counsel moved to strike punitive damages, and the motion was granted. Defense counsel challenged the nature and extent of Flick’s alleged . Counsel argued that Flick did not suffer any neurologic damage or brain injury, and contended that Flick’s stuttering was psychogenic in nature, as opposed to neurogenic. Defense counsel also contended that Flick was experiencing a conversion disorder, not a brain injury, which could be treated with psychological counseling and speech therapy. Defense counsel disputed Flick’s contention that she was permanently disabled and would experience early onset of dementia. Counsel also challenged Flick’s contention that she was unable to work for the rest of her life, noting that Flick had returned to work as an registered nurse eight months after the accident. During closing arguments, defense counsel argued that Flick should only be awarded $650,000 to $1.7 million in total damages, if anything, and presented multiple scenarios in which Flick’s damages would be below $1 million.
Superior Court of Santa Barbara County, Santa Maria, CA

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