Case details

Plaintiff claimed tanker truck crash caused lasting injuries





Result type

Not present

back, chest, fracture, herniated disc, neck, rib
On March 29, 2015, plaintiff Akiko Takemura, 28, a singer/songwriter, was a front-seat passenger in a Toyota Prius that was being operated by Chun J. (C.J.) Tsao. They were on the way to Las Vegas when the vehicle ran out of gas at a little before 6 a.m. Tsao attempted to get off the freeway, but the vehicle was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer gas-tanker truck operated by David Juarez. Takemura sustained to her head, neck and back. Takemura sued Juarez and Juarez’s employer, Pacific Tank Lines Inc., which also owned the tractor-trailer. Tsao was initially a plaintiff in the case, but he settled out and dismissed his case prior to the start of trial. Takemura contended that the crash was Juarez’s fault because Juarez allegedly admitted that he saw the disabled Prius a quarter mile in front of him, in the lane to his left, moving slowly with its hazard lights on, but that instead of slowing down, Juarez left his cruise control on and took his eyes off the road. Thus, she alleged that Juarez was negligent in the operation of the tanker truck and that Pacific Tanker Lines was liable for Juarez’s actions while in the course and scope of his employment. Pacific Tank Lines refused to take responsibility for the incident, and claimed that Tsao was to blame for the crash by running out of gas and not pulling off the road safely. Defense counsel also blamed Takemura for making a last minute decision to go to Las Vegas in the middle of the night after she had been drinking at a bowling alley and a bar., Takemura sustained cervical vertebrae fractures at C1 and C2, thoracic compression fracture at T3, a left lumbar transfer process fracture at L2, a comminuted sacral fracture, and right and left superior and inferior pubic rami fractures. She also sustained an occipital condyle fracture, dental fractures, a herniated lumbar disc at the L5-S1 level; an annular tear at L5-S1, a scalp hematoma, to her alar ligament and transfer ligament at C1-2, multiple rib fractures, a pulmonary contusion, and pneumothorax. Takemura subsequently spent almost two months in the hospital. Takemura claimed that she now lives with chronic neck and back pain. She also claimed that she lost her career as a talented singer-songwriter because, even though she tried to perform and continue her career, she did not have the same energy level, and was in pain and on pain medication. She alleged that as a result, she will need several future surgeries, including a fusion from occiput to C2 and a lumbar microdiscectomy at L5-S1. Takemura alleged that if the microdiscectomy does not help her, then she will have to undergo a lumbar fusion at L5-S1. Defense counsel contended that Takemura made an amazing recovery. Defense counsel also showed Instagram posts of Takemura at a Zumba class and deep sea fishing in an attempt to prove that Takemura had fully recovered.
Superior Court of San Bernardino County, San Bernardino, CA

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