Tree branch falls, hitting driver of work truck. $4.3M. San Francisco County.


Tree branch suddenly falls onto truck; driver injured and claims the accident caused depression.

The Case

  • Case Name: Smith v. St. Francis Homes Association
  • Court and Case Number: San Francisco Superior Court / CGC-19-574365
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Tuesday, November 01, 2022
  • Date Action was Filed: Thursday, March 07, 2019
  • Type of Action: Falling Object Accident
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Vedica Puri
  • Plaintiffs:
    Maurice Smith
  • Defendants:
    St. Francis Homes Association
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $4,300,00
  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: None.
  • Economic Damages:

    Future lost earnings: $3,500,000

  • Non-Economic Damages:


  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 13 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 5 hours
  • Jury Polls: 9-3

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Altair Law by Craig M. Peters, San Francisco.

    Kawahito Law Group by James Kawahito,Culver City.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Kaufman Dolowich & Voluck by Aimee Hamoy and Rogelio Serrano, San Francisco.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Piers Barry, M.D., orthopedic surgery.

    Alireza Bagherian, D.C., QME, functional capacity examinations.

    Mark D'Esposito, M.D., neurology.

    Dawn Osterweil, Ph.D., neuropsychology.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Robert Purchase, M.D., orthopedic surgery.

    Mark Strassberg, M.D., neurology.

    Joanna Berg, Ph.D., psychology.

    William Hoddick, M.D., radiology.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Maria Brady, vocational rehabilitation.

    Robert Johnson, forensic economics.

    Ken Solomon, accident reconstruction, biomechanics and human factors.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Ben Ewers, accident reconstruction and biomechanics.

    Roy Leggitt, arborist.

    Carla Kelley, vocational rehabilitation.

    Eric Drabkin, forensic economics.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On April 11, 2018, 35-year-old plaintiff was working for Recology as a garbage collector, driving his truck through St. Francis Wood, a residential neighborhood in San Francisco. A large, dead tree branch broke from a tree above and fell into and shattered the driver's side window of the vehicle plaintiff was driving.

    The incident resulted in a concussion and a torn rotator cuff, leading to clinical depression and anxiety.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiff's depression and anxiety were real, and were caused by/as a direct result of the accident.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Plaintiff is lying about the incident, his symptoms and his injuries.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Concussion, torn rotator cuff, cognitive deficits due to post-concussive syndrome, clinical depression, clinical anxiety, PTSD.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: 0
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: 0
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $3,500,000

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $1,500,000
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $301,000
  • Defendant Offer during Trial: $500,000


This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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