Case details

Teen struck at bus stop suffered traumatic amputation





Result type

Not present

anxiety, mental, psychological
On March 1, 2012, plaintiff Carly Bray, 17, a high school senior, was waiting for her school bus at the intersection of Pony Express Trail and Mace Road, in the Sierra foothill community of Camino. The bus stop location had been used for approximately 25 years by the El Dorado Union High School District. While Carly was at the bus stop, a vehicle operated by Kassandra Hoelscher was traveling on westbound on Pony Express Trail, toward the intersection. Kassandra, who was born and raised in El Dorado County and was also a high school senior, was on her regular way to school when she lost control of her 1992 Chevrolet Blazer and slid into the bus stop, striking Carly and pinning her against a utility guy-wire, which was maintained by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. Subsequently, Carly’s right leg was traumatically amputated just below the knee. Carly sued Kassandra; the school district; the El Dorado County Office of Education; the maintainers of the intersection, the county of El Dorado and the Department of Transportation for the State of California; and the maintainer of the guy-wire, PG&E Co. Carly alleged that Kassandra was negligent in the operation of her sport utility vehicle and that the school district and Office of Education were negligent in the placement of the school bus stop on the outside edge of a 45-mph curve. She also alleged that the county and Department of Transportation were liable for the dangerous condition of the curve on Pony Express Trail, immediately east of the bus stop, due to its irregular superelevation (i.e. inadequate banking) and that PG&E was negligent for allowing the guy-wire to remain located near the intersection. Prior to trial, Carly settled with the school district and the county. The Office of Education, Department of Transportation, and PG&E were ultimately let out of the case. Thus, the matter continued against Kassandra only. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that Kassandra was traveling at a speed that was excessive for the irregular superelevation of the curve and for icy condition of the roadway at the time of the incident. Counsel noted that the bus stop was relocated after the subject accident due to safety concerns. However, plaintiff’s counsel argued that while the school district bore some liability for the bus stop placement, the irregular banking was typical of most rural roads in the Sierra foothills and was not likely a cause of the subject accident. The plaintiff’s expert traffic safety engineer testified in a manner consistent with a declaration that he submitted in opposition to the county’s prior motion for summary judgment, in which he opined that the superelevation and bus stop placement contributed to the happening of the accident. However, the expert had no opinion about whether Kassandra did anything wrong. In addition, the plaintiff’s accident reconstruction expert also testified that the irregular superelevation was a likely cause of Kassandra’s loss of control. Kassandra denied liability throughout the litigation, and claimed that her travel speed was slow and that her loss of control was excusable because of the icy roadway conditions and characteristics of the roadway. She claimed that, but for the negligent placement of the school bus stop on the outside of the county’s dangerous curve, Carly would not have been injured. Kassandra also claimed that she lost control of her vehicle while traveling only 15 to 25 mph in conditions that the plaintiff’s accident reconstruction and meteorology experts conceded were snowy and icy at the time and that the collision occurred at approximately 5 mph. The defense’s expert traffic safety engineer testified that the intersection where the bus stop was located had an accident rate of at least three times higher than similar intersections statewide and that the accident history provided years of notice to the county and school district that the bus stop needed to be moved long before the subject collision occurred., Carly’s right leg was traumatically amputated below the knee as a result of the collision. She was subsequently transported via life flight to Sutter Roseville Medical Center, in Roseville, where she underwent knee disarticulation surgery to remove what remained of her right tibia and preserve the distal end of her femur to assist in weight bearing once fitted with a prosthesis. Carly then underwent physical therapy, chiropractic care, and counseling for anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Her right leg later became infected at the amputation site, requiring her to discontinue use of her prosthesis for several months. Carly claimed that, due to the loss of her right leg, she was no longer able to participate in the physical activities that she once enjoyed, including competitive volleyball, horseback riding, hiking, snowboarding, and swimming. She also claimed that her limit her future earning potential because she is no longer able to pursue her dream career as a registered nurse, even though she had yet to begin nursing school at time of trial. Plaintiff’s counsel noted that prior to Carly’s recent right leg infection, Carly was employed as a supermarket courtesy clerk, which required her to be on her feet several hours per day. The plaintiff’s treating orthopedic surgeon and pain management/rehabilitation doctor testified that Carly’s desire to enter the field of nursing was not a good career choice, even though for almost the last year she worked as a counter clerk at a supermarket, requiring shifts of six to eight hours on her “feet.” Carly claimed the supermarket job was very hard on her, but that she was able to endure the occupational pain. Carly eventually enlisted in the U.S. Navy prior to trial and was actually serving in the Navy when the case went to trial. Thus, plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award for Carly’s future lifetime medical and prosthetic care, as well as support services due to Carly’s inability to physically manage household chores as she ages. Defense counsel disputed the nature and extent of Carly’s and damages. Defense counsel also asked the jury to award less than the amount the plaintiff’s life care plan recommended for future pain medication due to evidence of Carly’s dislike of taking pain drugs.
Superior Court of El Dorado County, El Dorado, CA

Recommended Experts


Get a FREE consultation for your case