Case details

Truckers’ actions during snowy weather caused crash: plaintiff





Result type

Not present

brain, brain injury, language, sensory, speech, traumatic brain injury
On the morning of March 4, 2009, plaintiff Craig Bond, 48, a commercial truck driver, pulled over on the shoulder of the Interstate 5 freeway, near Mount Shasta, so that he and his driving partner could chain up the tires of his tractor-trailer since the weather conditions were snowy and the roads were slippery. Jorge Gonzales, who was employed by Overland Transport and Logistics Inc., also pulled his tractor-trailer over onto the shoulder behind Bond for a brief time that morning. When Gonzales pulled back onto the northbound I-5 freeway, Gabriel Dooley, who was operating his own tractor-trailer at approximately 35 to 45 mph, lost control and clipped the rear end of Gonzales’ tractor-trailer. After clipping Gonzales, Dooley ran into the rear of Bond’s stopped truck while Bond was outside chaining up his truck. As a result, Bond was hit by his trailer, and suffered a concussion and a broken pinky toe. Bond sued Gonzales; Gonzales’ employer, Overland Transport and Logistics; Dooley; and Dooley’s employer, HTrans Inc. Bond alleged that Gonzales and Dooley were negligent in the operation of their respective vehicles. He also alleged that Overland Transport was vicariously liable for Gonzales’ actions and that HTrans was vicariously liable for Dooley’s actions. Overland Transport and HTrans subsequently filed cross-complaints against each other. Bond claimed that Dooley was driving too fast for the slippery roads, causing Dooley to lose control of his tractor-trailer. He also claimed that Gonzales contributed to the crash by unsafely pulling onto the freeway in front of Dooley, causing Dooley to brake suddenly and lose control. Thus, plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to find 50/50 liability between Dooley and Gonzales. Both Dooley and Gonzales denied liability. Gonzales claimed that Dooley caused the entire crash by traveling at an unsafe speed. He also claimed that when he pulled away from the shoulder and out into the slow lane, he did not see Dooley in the distance, but believes that Dooley’s approaching truck was about 1,300 feet away. Gonzales’ counsel presented testimony that suggested that the roads were icy and that the appropriate speed for Dooley should have been 15 mph, instead of the 45-to-55-mph seed that Dooley was traveling at. Dooley and his experts alleged that Gonzales was to blame for the accident by negligently pulling out into the flow of traffic. Dooley also blamed Bond for dangerously parking a tractor-trailer on the side of the road and having the truck sticking out one to two feet into the right lane of the I-5 freeway., The trial was bifurcated. Damages were not before the court. Bond was transported to Mercy Medical Center Mt. Shasta, where only a fractured pinky toe on the right foot was diagnosed. The paramedics and emergency room professionals otherwise gave Bond a clean bill of health and sent him home. One week later, a worker’s compensation doctor diagnosed Bond with a concussion and has have trouble with word-finding. As a result, CT and MRI scans were ordered, but showed no abnormality. The word-finding difficulty continued and the post-concussion syndrome got worse approximately six weeks after the collision. Bond’s speech became a trembling speech, where he could not find his words or express his thoughts, and his mouth developed a chronic and ongoing tremor. Thus, Bond claimed he suffered a mild traumatic brain injury. As a result, Bond was unable to return to work and was admitted to brain injury rehabilitation for a brief period, during which he underwent physical therapy and speech therapy so that he could resume normal activities of daily living. The plaintiff’s medical experts agreed that there could be a conversion element to Bond’s problems because of the psychological difficulties of the mild traumatic brain injury, but that the tremor and speech problems were absolutely caused by the collision and the defendants’ negligence. Accordingly, plaintiffs’ counsel noted that mild traumatic brain have many consequences, both physical and psychological, and would have proffered that the “conversion disorder” was the result of a mild traumatic brain injury, which Bond could not handle psychologically. Counsel also disputed the defense’s medical experts’ perspective that a brain injury is worse at the outset, which plaintiffs’ counsel contended was misleading. Instead, plaintiffs’ counsel contended that, as in Bond’s case, the consequences of concussions and brain unravel and present themselves over time, so psychological consequences could take weeks, months, and even years to appear. Bond claimed that he was permanently disabled and could no longer resume the work of a truck driver. He also claimed he could no longer tend to his household duties. Plaintiffs’ counsel noted that Bond testified on the stand for less than five minutes and was only in the courtroom a few times in order to avoid the psychological harm of sitting through a hotly disputed trial. Bond’s wife, Ginger Bond, remained by her husband’s side and made a claim for her loss of consortium. Counsel for both Dooley and Gonzales disputed the cause and severity of Mr. Bond’s . YRC Worldwide intervened on the case, seeking recovery of benefits paid during the litigation to Mr. Bond for his medical treatment. Defense counsel shared medical experts, who called Mr. Bond’s condition as malingering. The defense’s medical experts also opined that, at best, Mr. Bond’s “conversion disorder” was motivated by litigation and could be cured with psychotherapy.
Superior Court of San Diego County, San Diego, CA

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