AC Transit Bus Hits Pedestrian
On September 30, 2009, 74-year-old Enrique was walking along Fruitvale Avenue in Oakland, crossing San Leandro Boulevard in the pedestrian crosswalk with the walk light. Defendant William Carter, acting in the course and scope of his employment as a bus operator with AC Transit, turned left against a red left turn arrow and struck Enrique, who was halfway through the pedestrian crosswalk. Carter asserted at the accident scene that Enrique had stepped off the curb in front of the bus in an attempt to cross against a red walk signal.
Enrique sued Carter and his employer, AC Transit, for negligence. Enrique sued Carter for punitive damages. During discovery, plaintiffs established defendant Carter ran the red left turn arrow and Enrique had the right-of-way. Plaintiffs contended neuropsychological testing revealed sequelae of a traumatic brain injury – subdural hematoma, in combination with severe depression. Plaintiffs also contended Enrique’s wife, Candida, suffered a loss of consortium because Enrique had been caring for her before the collision and could no longer do so due to his injuries.
Defendants disputed Enrique suffered a brain injury and contended his cognitive and functional deficits were due to pseudodementia, a severe form of depression. Defendants also questioned whether Enrique’s pre-existing degenerative joint disease would have required him to have shoulder surgery had the accident not occurred. Defendants further argued that plaintiff’s life expectancy was shortened to no more than five years because of pre-existing follicular lymphoma.
Enrique sustained loss of consciousness and a subdural hematoma as well as a laceration to his scalp where his head hit the pavement. He also had a spiral fracture of his left humerus and several broken ribs on the left side where the bus struck his body. Despite a left shoulder hemiarthroplasty, Enrique continued to suffer limited range of motion and pain in his left shoulder. His treating orthopedist testified he requires a reverse total shoulder arthroplasty. Due to the subdural hematoma, Enrique continued to experience headaches and developed tinnitus. His family members testified that his overall mood changed from generally pleasant to gruff and short-tempered, and that he suffered memory loss.
The parties negotiated a pre-trial settlement for $3,300,000 in mediation.