Case details

Plaintiff did not suffer PTSD from seeing motorist’s death: defense





Result type

Not present

emotional distress, mental, psychological
At around 11:45 a.m. on May 30, 2013, plaintiff Scott Roos, 53, a landscape maintenance lead worker for the California Department of Transportation, was driving on eastbound Interstate 80, also known as the Dwight D. Eisenhower Highway, in Vacaville, when he parked his work truck in the median (left shoulder) near the Lagoon Valley Road overpass to fix a nozzle on his truck. While he was standing outside of his truck, holding the door handle, his parked truck was struck by a vehicle operated by Vivian Williams, who had either fallen asleep or became distracted. Roos was thrown into bushes on the side of the freeway. After striking Roos’ work truck, Williams’ vehicle flipped over and landed upside down, where it was struck by another vehicle. Williams sustained multiple traumatic and died at the scene. Roos claimed that went over to help Williams after the accident, but saw her dead body on the freeway. Roos sued the estate of Vivian Williams and the believed owner of her vehicle, Leroy Williams. Roos alleged that Ms. Williams was negligent in the operation of her vehicle and that Mr. Williams was vicariously liable for Ms. Williams’ actions. Specifically, Roos claimed that Ms. Williams was negligent for being inattentive while driving, which caused the accident and his . Defense counsel admitted that Ms. Williams was falling asleep or had become distracted, but argued that Roos should not have parked his truck on the median (left shoulder). Thus, counsel argued that Roos was partially liable for the incident., Roos claimed that he sustained a bruise and some scratches from the accident. However, he claimed that his main injury was the mental distress of post-traumatic stress disorder. Following the accident, Roos allegedly went over to help Ms. Williams, but saw that she was partially decapitated with parts of her body, including a piece of her scalp, on the freeway. (Gruesome photographs were shown to the jury and admitted into evidence by plaintiffs’ counsel.) Roos also claimed that part of Ms. Williams’ biological matter ended up on his hands and face. Thus, he sought medical treatment the day of the accident and he continued to treat with mental health professionals for nearly one year. Roos was ultimately diagnosed with PTSD by at least three treating psychologists. Roos took time off of work for approximately one year, claiming he could not work due to his PTSD, but was eventually able to return to work. He is also continuing to seek counseling, but he is not required to continue counseling. The plaintiff’s psychology expert, Dr. Clyde Burch, and his treating psychologist, Dr. David Green, both opined that Roos suffered from PTSD because of the accident and that Roos had to take time off from work due to his condition. Thus, Roos sought recovery of $250,000, including $19,013.48 in medical expenses, $80,000 in loss of earnings, and an unspecified amount of damages for his past and future emotional pain and suffering. Roos’s wife, Teresa Roos, who worked for the United States Post Office, presented a derivative claim, seeking recovery for her loss of consortium. She claimed that her husband’s personality changed after the accident, causing their relationship to become strained. She alleged that as a result, they were no longer close or loving and that her husband purchased a new bed and placed it in the kitchen so that he would not sleep in the same bedroom as her. Thus, Ms. Roos claimed that the accident damaged their relationship. Defense counsel argued that Mr. Roos was not suffering from PTSD or any other emotional distress and that Mr. Roos was not injured from the accident. Thus, counsel asked the jury to render a defense verdict.
Superior Court of Solano County, Solano, CA

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