Case details

Truck driver made illegal turn, causing child’s injuries: suit




Mediated Settlement

Result type

Not present

cognition, face, facial, fracture, head, leg, legs, mental, nose, psychological, skull
On Feb. 18, 2011, at 3:10 p.m., plaintiff Jalen Terry, 5, a passenger in the backseat of a 2004 Lexus operated by his mother, Shunay Dornners, was traveling north on Frontage Road in Oakland. Dornners was driving her mother’s vehicle, which did not have a child’s car seat in it. Around the same time, a 1995 Peterbilt tractor, operated by Bennett Moronez, was pulling a fully loaded trailer owned by Intrinsic Transportation Inc. when it made a left turn from a stop sign on 10th Street into the northbound lanes of Frontage Road, thereby blocking the northbound Frontage Road lanes. As a result, the Lexus that Jalen was in collided with the rear portion of the trailer. Jalen was unrestrained at the time of impact, resulting in to his head, face and legs. Shumar Dornners, acting as Jalen’s guardian ad litem, sued Moronez, Intrinsic Transportation Inc., Shunay Dornners; and the owner of the Lexus, Ms. Dornners’ mother, Faye McGehee. Mr. Dornners alleged that Moronez and Ms. Dornners were negligent in the operation of their respective vehicles and that Mcgehee was vicariously liable for Ms. Dornners’ actions. Mr. Dornners also alleged that Intrinsic Transportation was liable for negligently entrusting the tractor-trailer to Moronez. McGehee’s insurance company, which covered Ms. Dornners as a driver, agreed to settle by tendering McGehee’s $50,000 policy limits. Thus, the matter continued against Moronez and Intrinsic Transportation. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that a “no left turn” sign located on 10th Street made it illegal and unsafe for Moronez to attempt to turn left onto Frontage Road. Counsel also contended that Moronez was an unlicensed driver with multiple vehicle code violations and a prior accident on his record. Accordingly, plaintiff’s counsel asserted that Intrinsic Transportation negligently entrusted their trailer to be driven by Moronez. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that a curve on the northbound Frontage Road prevented Ms. Dornners from seeing the intersection and prevented Moronez, on 10th Street, from seeing approaching vehicles until they were close to the intersection. Counsel also contended that Ms. Dornners was traveling within the 35 mph speed limit, but that she did not have a car seat for Jalen and, instead, placed him in the back seat, secured with a shoulder and lap belt. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that, according to the then existing seat belt law, Jalen weighed enough pounds to be permitted to ride without a car seat as long as he was secured by a lap and shoulder harness. Jalen testified that he unbelted his seat belt just before the collision occurred. Counsel for Moronez and Intrinsic Transportation asserted that Ms. Dornners was driving in excess of the speed limit and that she looked down, away from the road, to retrieve her cell phone, which had fallen to the floor just before the collision occurred. Counsel further asserted that Jalen had developmental issues and that he was not sufficiently capable of exercising independent self-care to stay secured by a seat belt., Jalen sustained an open depressed skull fracture, a mandibular fracture, a right orbital fracture and bilateral femur fractions. He ultimately required surgery that included metallic plates and screws to repair his fractured legs. Neuropsychological testing for Jalen showed deficits in attention, executive functioning, memory and impulsive behavior. Plaintiff’s counsel asserted that these deficits were related to Jalen’s head injury during the crash. Thus, plaintiff’s counsel claimed that the present value of Jalen’s future life care costs amounted to $1,742,807 for private-hire supervision and that the present value of Jalen’s future income loss amounted to $1,420,454. The Medi-Cal lien for Jalen’s medical treatment was $64,314. Counsel for Moronez and Intrinsic Transportation asserted that the severe to Jalen were caused by not being restrained at the time of the collision. Counsel noted that Jalen was back in school, asserting that any alleged deficits were a result of prior developmental delays since birth and that there was no demonstrable residual brain injury. Thus, counsel for Moronez and Intrinsic Transportation asserted that Jalen’s life care costs were not caused by the accident, but resulted from pre-existing limitations.
Superior Court of Alameda County, Oakland, CA

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