Dash cam proves that taxi cab ran red light. $1.5M. Santa Cruz County.

Summary

Video of the cab at the intersection was produced only one month before trial.

The Case

  • Case Name: Yolonda Lovejoy v. Santa Cruz Transportation; Yong Im Yoon
  • Court and Case Number: Santa Cruz County Superior Court / 18CV01126
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, September 11, 2019
  • Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, April 18, 2018
  • Type of Action: Negligence, Vehicles - Intersection
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Paul P. Burdick
  • Plaintiffs:
    Yolonda Lovejoy
  • Defendants:
    Santa Cruz Transportation
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $1,510,000
  • Net Verdict or Award: $1,711,025.86 w/ costs and interest.
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    $1,510,000 against Santa Cruz Transportation and Yong Im Yoon.

  • Economic Damages:

    Waived.

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past pain and suffering: $550,000

    Future pain and suffering: $960,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 5 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 5 hours.
  • Jury Polls: 11-1 – Past non-economic damages; 10-2 – Future non-economic damages.
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Defendant's motion for new trial - denied. Defendant's motion to tax and/or strike costs - granted in part, denied in part. Plaintiff's motion for admissions sanctions - denied.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley by Dan C. Schaar and Eva D. Silva, Campbell.

    Wiles & Wiles Attorneys At Law, LLP by Tyson J. Wiles, Santa Cruz.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Kern Segal & Murray by Philip A. Segal and Cassady Toles, San Francisco.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Christopher David Summa, M.D., M.B.A.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    David Bradshaw, M.D.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On June 20, 2016, plaintiff was t-boned by a Yellow Cab that ran a red light. The cab was owned by Santa Cruz Transportation and being driven by defendant Yong Im Yoon. Plaintiff did not take an ambulance from the scene, but rather walked home, over a mile.

    At the scene, defendant Yoon claimed that she had a green light and that plaintiff ran a red light. However, the Yellow Cab was equipped with a dash-cam, which proved that defendant had run a red light, traveling close to 30 mph. 

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That defendant driver was at fault for the crash.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Despite incontrovertible video evidence, the defense denied liability until one month before trial. The defense claimed that the video had “been lost” and through most of the litigation contended that plaintiff had sufficient time to perceive and react and should have avoided the crash. However, one month before trial, the video was found and produced, and liability for the crash was admitted.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Plaintiff began her medical care the day after the crash, and over the course of the ensuing years underwent a series of trigger point injections in her back, a decompression surgery of her left shoulder, multi-level, bilateral radiofrequency ablation (RFA) in her lumbar spine, and a two-level cervical discectomy.

    Plaintiff’s treating physicians and expert witnesses stated that all medical care was reasonable and necessary, and that her injuries were caused by the crash. Plaintiff’s medical expert also concluded that plaintiff would require future medical care in the form on ongoing RFA in her lumbar spine, and that within 15 years she would require a further surgery to her cervical spine.

    Plaintiff’s paid medical expenses were approximately $100,000. Defendants' retained expert opined that although plaintiff’s past medical treatment was reasonable, the cause of most of her complaints was not related to the car crash, but rather to other outside influences, including an ongoing harassment claim against her former employer, an ongoing landlord-tenant dispute, as well as other personal stressors. The expert for the defense contended that plaintiff would require little to no future care, and she would not require any future surgery. The expert also stated that plaintiff was out for “secondary gain,” and her complaints were psychosomatic in nature.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: Waived.
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: Waived.
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: Waived.
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: Waived.

Additional Notes

Post trial, plaintiff filed a Motion Requesting Admissions Sanctions for defendants’ failure to admit certain facts. This motion was denied by Judge Burdick. The defendants filed a Motion to Strike and/or Tax Plaintiff’s Costs. This motion was granted in part and denied in part, and plaintiff was awarded $83,121.75 in costs. The defendants also filed a Motion for New Trial or Remittitur. This motion was denied on all grounds.

After costs and prejudgment interest are added to the jury verdict, plaintiff's amended judgment will total $1,711,025.86 as of December 16, 2019.

Disclaimer

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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