Case details

Plaintiff driver failed to yield right of way, defense argued





Result type

Not present

back, chronic pain, neck, pain, right knee, soft-tissue injuries, testicles, testicular
On Feb. 23, 2013, plaintiff Nicholas Stellate was driving in a construction zone on Wilshire Boulevard, in Los Angeles. Wilshire Boulevard has three lanes heading in each direction with a fourth lane — a left turning lane — appearing at intersections. Due to the construction, the number two and number three lanes — the center and right lanes — were closed, leaving the first lane (the far left lane) open as the only through lane. West of the intersection with South Beverly Glen Boulevard, there was a parking lane located on the right, westbound side of the roadway, to the right of the number three lane. The construction zone ended several feet from the intersection with Warner Avenue. Stellate was driving in the parking lane, which merged into the open number three (far right) lane after the construction zone and before the intersection with Warner Avenue. As he exited the construction zone and merged into the number three lane, his vehicle was struck on the left, front side by a Federal Express delivery truck operated by Tina Malia, who was traveling in the same direction, in the first (far left) lane on Wilshire Boulevard and was attempting to merge over to the number three lane after exiting the construction zone. Stellate claimed multiple bodily . Stellate sued Malia and Malia’s employer, Federal Express Corp., which also owned the delivery truck. Stellate alleged that Malia was negligent in the operation of the delivery truck and that Federal Express was vicariously liable for Malia’s actions while she was in the course and scope of her employment. Specifically, Stellate claimed that Malia attempted to merge across two lanes and that her unsafe lane change caused the impact in the number three lane. Malia claimed that she had the right of way, as was traveling in the through lane, and that Stellate failed to yield to closely approaching through traffic before exiting the construction zone and parking lane. She also claimed that she could not see Stellate’s vehicle, as it was in her truck’s blind spot. Defense counsel contended that California Vehicle Code § 21804(a) basically states that if a driver intends to enter a highway from a space of public or private property, or any alley, the driver must yield the right of way to all closely approaching traffic already present on the highway. Thus, counsel argued that since Stellate was attempting to enter the highway from a parking lane, Stellate failed to yield the right of way to Malia’s closely approaching vehicle, which was already present on the highway, and caused the collision., Ten days after the collision, Stellate presented to an emergency room with complaints of pain in his neck, back, testicles, and right knee. He was ultimately diagnosed with herniated cervical discs at the C3-4 and C4-5 levels; a medial meniscus tear of the right knee; and testicular torsion. Stellate underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and spermatic cod blocks for pain in his testicles. He also received multiple epidural injections to his cervical spine. In addition, Stellate had a spinal cord stimulator implanted to treat his testicular pain, but it was allegedly not successful. Stellate claimed that he is left with chronic neck pain and testicular pain. He alleged that as a result, he suffers limitations in performing his activities of daily living. He further alleged that his condition causes him to suffer from emotional distress. Thus, Stellate sought recovery for his past and future medical costs, and recovery of damages for his past and future pain and suffering. Plaintiff’s counsel suggested that the jury award Stellate between $40 million and $45 million in total damages. Defense counsel disputed the alleged seriousness of Stellate’s alleged , noting that Stellate was able to continue working his jobs as a personal trainer, which involved lifting weights, and as an actor. The defense’s biomechanical expert noted that the impact occurred at a low speed, and opined that the forces of the collision were minimal. The defense’s expert orthopedist opined that Stellate’s complaints were mainly due to pre-existing, degenerative conditions that were not caused by the crash. He also opined that Stellate only sustained minor soft tissue in the crash and that those have since resolved.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Long Beach, CA

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