Case details

Teen struck in crosswalk claimed traumatic brain injury





Result type

Not present

brain, brain injury, head injury, traumatic brain injury
On Feb. 10, 2010, at approximately 6:10 p.m., plaintiff Leopoldo Jorge Jr., 15, a student, was walking in a crosswalk at the intersection of Calistoga Road and Marit Drive, in Santa Rosa, when he was struck by a vehicle operated by Almir DaFonseca. Leopoldo subsequently sustained a head injury. Leopoldo, through his guardian ad litem, sued DaFonseca and DaFonseca’s employer, The Culinary Institute of America. Leopoldo alleged that DaFonseca was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that The Culinary Institute was vicariously liable for DaFonseca’s actions while he was in the course and scope of his employment with the institute. The plaintiff’s accident reconstruction expert opined that DaFonseca was negligent, but conceded that Leopoldo was negligent as well. However, he opined that Leopoldo was only partially at fault, if anything, for the accident. DaFonseca claimed that he was commuting home from work when Leopoldo stepped into his vehicle. DaFonseca’s counsel noted that the Santa Rosa police department determined that the accident was solely the fault of Leopoldo, who did not look as he walked in front of a moving vehicle at dusk. Counsel for the Culinary Institute argued that Leopoldo was negligent for failing to look before walking into a moving vehicle. Counsel also argued that DaFonseca was commuting home from work and, therefore, was not in the course and scope of his employment., Leopoldo claimed he suffered a traumatic brain injury and a back injury. He was subsequently taken by ambulance to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. The plaintiff’s expert neuropsychologist testified that Leopoldo suffered a TBI with significant cognitive deficits. However, plaintiff’s counsel elected not to offer evidence of Leopoldo’s alleged past medical expenses. Leopoldo also claimed that his back pain is ongoing. The plaintiff’s vocational rehabilitation expert testified that Leopoldo could have been a skilled union worker, but that as a result of his , Leopoldo could do only perform menial work at $10 to $12 per hour. Thus, Leopoldo sought recovery of more than $1.7 million in economic damages and $5.4 million in non-economic damages. Defense counsel argued that Leopoldo suffered post-concussive syndrome, but had no ongoing cognitive deficit. The defense’s neurology expert opined that Leopoldo suffered a mild TBI with no evidence of a residual injury. The defense’s expert neuropsychologist testified that any cognitive limitations existed prior to the accident, and defense counsel noted that Leopoldo had a significant history of behavioral problems and poor academic achievement. Defense counsel also called an orthopedic surgeon that plaintiff’s counsel withdrew as their expert. The surgeon testified that his examination of Leopoldo did not uncover any support for the claims of an orthopedic injury. Thus, the defense’s vocational rehabilitation expert testified that the suffered in the accident did not impact Leopoldo’s ability to seek employment.
Superior Court of Sonoma County, Sonoma, CA

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