Case details

Plaintiffs claimed dangerous intersection caused crash





Result type

Not present

crush injury, leg
On Sept. 25, 2009, plaintiff Jessica Jeanes, 13, was riding as a passenger on a motorcycle driven by her stepfather, plaintiff Clifford Pleggenkuhle, 38, an aviation mechanic. As they were traveling on northbound Lincoln Boulevard in Los Angeles at approximately 6:30 p.m., they entered the intersection at Manchester Avenue and was struck by a vehicle operated by Alberto Garcia, who was making a left turn from southbound Lincoln Boulevard onto eastbound Manchester Avenue. Both Jessica and Pleggenkuhle sustained left leg , but Pleggenkuhle’s injury resulted in an amputation. Elliott Francine, acting as the guardian ad litem for Jessica, sued Garcia, Pleggenkuhle and the city of Los Angeles. He also brought a separate action against the city of Los Angeles and the state of California. Francine alleged that Garcia and Pleggenkuhle were negligent in the operation of their respective vehicles. He also alleged that the city and state were negligent in the repair and/or maintenance of the subject intersection, creating a dangerous condition. Pleggenkuhle also brought separate action against the city of Los Angeles, county of Los Angeles and the state of California. In addition, Pleggenkuhle also brought another separate action against the state, the city and Garcia. He alleged that the city, state and county failed to repair the intersection’s dangerous condition and that Garcia was solely negligent in the operation of his vehicle. All four of the complaints were ultimately consolidated. Jessica and Pleggenkuhle claimed that Garcia failed to yield the right of way at the subject intersection and made an unsafe turn into their path of travel. Jessica additionally claimed that Pleggenkuhle was negligent for failing to avoid the accident. Jessica and Pleggenkuhle further claimed that the intersection had a long history of accidents, in which left-turning, southbound vehicles collided with northbound vehicles attempting to pass through the intersection. They alleged that the number of accidents established that a clearly dangerous/trap condition had existed for years. Plaintiffs’ counsel contended that since Lincoln Boulevard is a state highway and Manchester Avenue is a city street, both the state’s Department of Transportation and city of Los Angeles has concurrent jurisdiction over the intersection, even though final authority for the intersection rested with the state. Counsel further contended that discovery confirmed that both state and city guidelines mandated the phasing of the traffic signals for southbound vehicles at the subject intersection to be changed from “protected/permissive,” to “protected,” based on the number of prior left turn accidents. In addition, Jessica’s accident reconstruction expert and Pleggenkuhle’s transportation/highway safety expert opined that the latter phasing method would largely eliminate such accidents at the subject intersection. Garcia claimed that he was not confused by the intersection and lights, and that Pleggenkuhle was exceeding the speed limit at the time of the accident. In addition, Garcia’s counsel contended that Pleggenkuhle had measurable quantities of drugs in his system at the time of the crash. The state contended that the accident was caused by Garcia’s failure to yield the right of way to the plaintiffs’ motorcycle. It also contended that the city of Los Angeles is responsible for writing up the accident reports at the subject intersection, and that the reports are supposed to be forwarded to the state, which the city failed to do in this regard. The city contended that the subject intersection is a state highway with a city street intersecting it, and that the state controls all traffic design and construction for the street, signing, striping, signals and lighting at that intersection. Thus, the city claimed that its sole responsibility is for maintenance of signals and lighting, as well as street sweeping. It further contended that when the state designed a street-widening project at the intersection in question, the northbound signal did not have a left turn signal and a “protected only” signal was installed at that time, while no change was made to the subject southbound signal, as it did not meet all of the state’s criteria. Thus, the city claimed it has no responsibility for such design considerations or changes on a state highway per the city and state agreement. Since it was determined that Lincoln Boulevard is a state highway and Manchester Avenue is a city street, and that the state and/or city had jurisdiction over the subject intersection, the county of Los Angeles was discontinued from the case., An ambulance took both Jessica and Pleggenkuhle from the scene of the accident and brought them to an emergency room. Jessica suffered a degloving injury to her left foot, as well as other to her left, lower extremity. After undergoing numerous surgical procedures, she was left with a deformity of her left foot that precludes her from walking without an especially supportive shoe, and prevents her from engaging in virtually all sports and other activities. In addition, Jessica claimed that she continues to deal with chronic pain in her left foot. Thus, Jessica claimed $440,016.72 in past medical costs, which was reduced to $76,785.99. She also sought between $300,000 and $400,000 in damages for her future loss of earning capacity, as well as an unspecified amount of damages for her past and future pain and suffering. Pleggenkuhle sustained a severe crush injury to his left leg that resulted in a below-the-knee amputation. He followed up with rehabilitation therapy and was fitted for a prosthetic device. Pleggenkuhle never returned to work as an aviation mechanic. He claimed that he was very athletic prior to the accident, but that he can no longer engage in any physical activities due to his mobility being severely compromised. Thus, Pleggenkuhle claimed roughly $400,000 in damages for his past medical costs. He also sought $500,000 in damages for his future medical costs/life care plan; a substantial amount of damages for his lost earnings, in which he claimed he had a 25-year work-expectancy; and an unspecified amount of damages for his past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel did not dispute the severity of either Jessica’s or Pleggenkuhle’s .
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Torrance, CA

Recommended Experts


Get a FREE consultation for your case