Case details

Steep, winding road caused multiple truck crashes: plaintiffs





Result type

Not present

ankle, back, brain, brain injury, chest, coma, damage, fracture, hip, hip leg, leg, neck, nerve, neurological, rib, scapula, shoulder, transverse process, transverse process ankle, traumatic brain injury, vertebra
On May 2, 2014, plaintiff Eric Johnson, 51, a commercial truck driver, was seriously injured when his loaded cement truck lost its brakes while driving down Loma Vista Drive, in Beverly Hills, causing him to crash into parked vehicles and stop his runaway descent. Johnson claimed multiple traumatic , including a brain injury. One week later, on May 9, 2014, plaintiffs’ decedent Ernest Allen Sr., a Los Angeles Police Department Detective in his 60s, who was off-duty at the time, was traveling up Loma Vista Drive when an over 60,000-pound, heavy haul, cement truck rolled over on top of Allen’s pickup truck. The cement truck, which was operated by Brandon Cascio, 50, a commercial truck driver employed by Over & Over Ready Mix Inc., lost its brakes while traveling down on Loma Vista Drive and ran off the road at a curve. As a result, it rolled over on top of Allen’s pickup truck and flattened Allen’s vehicle. Cascio sustained multiple fractures in the accident and Allen ultimately died at the scene. The decedent’s adult children, Latrice Allen-Richard and Ernest Allen Jr., sued the city of Beverly Hills; the city of Los Angeles; Cascio; and Cascio’s employer, Over & Over Ready Mix Inc. The decedent’s family alleged that the cities were liable for the roadway’s dangerous condition. They also alleged that Cascio was negligent in the operation of the cement truck and that Over & Over Ready Mix was liable for Cascio’s actions while in the course and scope of his employment. Johnson filed a separate suit against city of Beverly Hills and the city of Los Angeles, alleging that the cities were liable for the roadway’s dangerous condition. The actions were ultimately consolidated, as was a third action filed by Yackisha Allen against the city of Beverly Hills. However, the city settled with Yackisha Allen early on. In addition, two other matters were consolidated with the other cases, but were ultimately severed. In addition, the heirs of Ernest Allen Sr. settled with Cascio and Over & Over Ready Mix for a confidential amount early in the litigation, and the city of Los Angeles was let out of the case once it was determined that the city of Beverly Hills maintained the subject roadway. Thus, the matter involving both Ernest Allen Sr. and Johnson proceeded solely against the city of Beverly Hills on a theory of a dangerous condition of the roadway. Before settling with the Allen heirs, Cascio filed a cross-complaint against the city of Beverly Hills, alleging that the city was responsible for his . Thus, after settling with the Allen heirs, Cascio became a plaintiff in the case and, with a written consent from all of the plaintiffs, he became represented by the firm that initially only represented the Allen heirs. Plaintiffs’ counsel contended that Loma Vista Drive was too steep and winding for heavy haul vehicles that operated in excess of 50,000 pounds gross laden weight to safely traverse, even when reasonably operating the vehicle. Counsel also contended that the nature of the long, steep, winding road was such that brake failure for these heavy haul vehicles was virtually guaranteed and that the city of Beverly Hills was negligent for allowing the dangerous condition to exist. Defense counsel for the city of Beverly Hills contended that Loma Vista Drive was not dangerous and that regardless of whether or not it constituted a dangerous condition of public property, brake failure of the heavy haul vehicles was a result of driver error or equipment failure., Ernest Allen Sr. sustained multiple traumatic when his vehicle was crushed by the over 60,000-pound, heavy haul, cement truck. He died at the scene. Allen, a police detective in his 60s, died on May 9, 2014. He was survived by his children, Latrice Allen-Richard and Ernest Allen Jr., who sought recovery of wrongful death damages for the loss of their father. Johnson suffered a litany of traumatically-induced , including a brain injury, peroneal/tibial nerve , ruptured ligaments and tendons, and a series of fractures throughout the body, including scapula fractures, an L2 transverse process fracture, right leg fractures involving the femur and proximal fibula, and left ankle fractures. Johnson claimed that he now has difficulty walking unassisted and can no longer work. He also claimed that he will need surgeries on his right knee and foot. Cascio suffered multiple orthopedic , including bilateral hip fractures, pelvic fractures, rib fractures, and spinal . He subsequently underwent surgery to treat his fractures. Plaintiffs’ counsel contended that Cascio is in a persistent vegetative coma as a result of the accident. As a result, Cascio is cared for by his mother with assisted in-home care. Counsel contended that Cascio’s life care plan included 24-hour care. Defense counsel for the city of Beverly Hills disputed the nature and extent of Johnson’s alleged long-term and disabilities, as well as disputed Johnson’s life expectancy. Defense counsel noted that Cascio’s eyes were opened and that there was a dispute about whether Cascio was actually responding to external stimuli. Counsel also disputed the amount of care required by Cascio. In addition, defense counsel noted that one month after the accident, Cascio was in a hospital recovering from treatment for his fractures when he underwent a minor surgical procedure and, thereafter, remained in a permanent vegetative coma. Counsel also noted that a separate medical malpractice action was filed on behalf of Cascio against the physicians that treated him, which was resolved. Thus, defense counsel asserted that Cascio’s coma was related to the physicians’ alleged negligence and not due to the subject motor vehicle accident. However, in response, plaintiffs’ counsel asserted that, regardless of the physicians’ actions, if it had not been for the sustained in the rollover accident, Cascio would not have needed to undergo the surgery in the first place.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Santa Monica, CA

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