Case details

Plaintiff claimed truck driver’s illegal U-turn caused crash





Result type

Not present

annular tear, back, hips, neck, shoulders
On Sept. 9, 2010, plaintiff Roland Flores, 42, a longshore crane operator, was driving his Chevrolet Cobalt west on Middle Harbor Road, in Oakland. When he was approximately 400 feet west of the intersection of Maritime Street and Middle Harbor Road, near the SSA Terminals’ marine terminal at the Port of Oakland, a loaded Freightliner tractor-trailer operated by Tarlochan Singh struck him. Flores sustained to his shoulders, hips and back. Flores sued Singh; the owner of the tractor-trailer, Kaur Rajvindger; Singh’s employer, GSC Logistics Inc.; and the maintainer of the property where the accident occurred, the Port of Oakland and SSA Terminals (Oakland), LLC. Flores alleged that Singh was negligent in the operation of the tractor-trailer and that Rajvindger and GSC Logistics were vicariously liable for Singh’s actions. He also alleged that the Port of Oakland and SSA Terminals were liable for the roadway’s condition, in that it constituted a dangerous condition of public property. Flores had also initially sued AIG Highstar, L.P.; the city of Oakland; Ports of America Outer Harbor Terminal, LLC; Seaside Transportation Services, LLC; Total Terminals International Inc.; and Trapac, Inc. However, they were all dismissed from the case after it was determined that they were the wrong parties and had no involvement in the incident. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that Singh’s tractor-trailer was stopped partially in the right lane and partially in the right shoulder of Middle Harbor Road, facing the same direction as Flores’ vehicle. Counsel contended that Singh was waiting to make an illegal U-turn so he could enter a queue on the opposite shoulder to access the terminal for SSA Terminals. However, plaintiff’s counsel asserted that as Flores approached, Singh suddenly accelerated and turned the tractor-trailer directly into Flores’ path. Thus, counsel asserted that Singh’s attempted U-turn caused Flores’ vehicle to collide with tractor-trailer. Plaintiff’s counsel further asserted that the Port of Oakland was liable for the dangerous configuration of the Maritime/Middle Harbor intersection, in that it encouraged truckers to make illegal U-turns across traffic. In addition, counsel asserted that SSA Terminals was liable for creating a dangerous condition on Middle Harbor Road that also encouraged truckers to make illegal U-turns across traffic. Defense counsel contended that Flores saw the tractor-trailer on the side of the road initiate its left turn as he approached it and that there was sufficient time and distance for Flores to have avoided the accident. Thus, counsel asserted that Flores was contributorily negligent. SSA Terminals claimed that it did not possess or control the accident site. It also claimed it had no duty to Flores and did not cause the accident. Counsel for the Port of Oakland likewise contended that there was no dangerous condition on the roadway and that no such condition caused the accident. Counsel also asserted that the accident and the hazards that caused the accident were unforeseeable. Counsel further asserted that the Port of Oakland was entitled to design immunity pursuant to Government Code § 830.6., Later in the day, Flores was taken to a hospital, where he was treated for numerous . Most notably, he sustained an acromioclavicular joint separation of his right, dominant shoulder; an annular tear in his spine, two labrum tears (one in each of his hips); and a Morel-Lavallee lesion (an internal degloving injury) near his right hip. Flores subsequently underwent several surgeries, including an open-repair Weaver-Dunn procedure, within one year of the accident, to repair his shoulder and install hardware. He also underwent a surgery to remove fluid that gathered in the Morel-Lavallee lesion within a year of the accident and two arthroscopic hip surgeries within two years of the accident. Flores claimed that he continued to experience some discomfort in his shoulders and hips, as well as his back due to a disc protrusion, even after the surgeries. As a result, he was unable to work for over two years. Flores also claimed that he will require future shoulder and hip surgeries, and epidural injections to his back. Thus, Flores sought recovery of approximately $100,000 in past medical costs, $45,000 in future medical costs, in excess of $250,000 in past lost earnings, and $710,000 in future lost earnings due a decreased work-life capacity of 5 years. He also sought recovery of $1.1 million in damages for his pain and suffering. (According to defense counsel, Flores’ original demands were in the $2 million range.) Defense counsel disputed the necessity of some of Flores’ medical treatment, and asserted that Flores’ time away from work was either excessive or could, at least, be partially attributed to other medical conditions. Counsel also asserted that much of Flores’ medical expenses and lost earnings arose either from Flores’ own fault or from other factors. Defense counsel asserted that Flores’ damages, nonetheless, should be reduced due to Flores’ alleged comparative fault.
Superior Court of Alameda County, Oakland, CA

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