Pro motorcycle instruction ends in crash. Defense. San Francisco County.
Female motorcyclist rides with instructor at track, claims gross negligence when they crash.
- Case Name: Jennifer Barrett v. Cory Call, Keigwins@TheTrack, Inc., Szymon Dziadzia, Jesse Carter, Kevin Norton, Leah Carter
- Court and Case Number: San Francisco Superior Court / CGC-16-551980
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, May 03, 2019
- Type of Action: Vehicles - Motorcycle
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Harold Kahn
- Plaintiffs: Jennifer Barrett
- Defendants: Cory CallKeigwins@TheTrack, Inc.Szymon DziadziaJesse CarterKevin NortonLeah Carter
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: Defense.
- Award as to each Defendant:
Szymon Dziadzia, Jesse Carter and Leah Carter were voluntarily dismissed by plaintiff early on. Kevin Norton got out on summary judgment. Only the other two defendants, Cory Call & Keigwins@TheTrack, Inc. remained at trial.
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 14 days.
- Jury Deliberation Time: Approximately 5 1/2 hours over 2 days.
- Jury Polls: 10-2
- Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Motion for new trial denied. $146,000 tentatively awarded in costs.
- Attorney for the Plaintiff:
Choulos, Choulos & Wyle by George Choulos and Claude Wyle, San Francisco.
- Attorney for the Defendant:
Hewitt & Truszkowski by Stephen L. Hewitt and Stacy L. Raphael, Los Angeles.
- Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
Fernando Miranda, M.D., neurology, San Francisco.
Edgar Angelone, Ph.D., neuropsychology, San Francisco.
Piers Barry, M.D., orthopedics, San Francisco.
- Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
Kyle Boone, Ph.D., neurospsychology, Los Angeles.
Kenneth Laxer, M.D., EEG/evoked potentials, San Francisco.
Trigg McClellan, M.D., orthopedics, San Francisco.
John Panagotacos, M.D,. neurology, San Francisco.
- Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):
Carol Hyland, M.A./M.S., vocational rehabilitation, San Francisco.
Richard Becker, high performance riding/instruction.
Phillip Allman, economics.
- Defendant's Technical Expert(s):
Maria Brady, MS, CRC, CLCP, vocational rehabilitation, San Francisco.
Lance Keigwin, in-house operations/two-up riding.
Constantine Boukidis, economics.
Facts and Background
- Facts and Background:
Plaintiff, age 32 at the time of the October 18, 2015 accident at Thunderhill Raceway, was a high-wage earner in the banking/finance industry. She was an experienced motorcyclist who had previously ridden at high performance motorcycle track days at Thunderhill Raceway organized by defendant Keigwins@TheTrack, Inc. Defendant Cory Call ("Call"), age 46, was a professional motorcycle racer providing individualized instruction and coaching for Keigwins. He also offered high speed "two-up" rides to participants to improve their riding skills by demonstrating the correct lines, throttle and brake control and providing an instructional, controlled experience with deep lean angles and knee dragging.
Barrett participated in a two-up ride with Call. They crashed during the third lap after hitting a slick spot, and slid into the grassy outfield at high speed. A second motorcycle (ridden by dismissed former defendant Kevin Norton) soon crashed in the same area, slamming into Barret and Call. Call tried to shield Barrett from Norton's motorcycle as she remained on her hands and knees catching her breath. First responders found Barrett unconscious with a head injury and sonorous breathing. Call sustained multiple serious fractures. Both were airlifted to a level 1 trauma center.
Barrett was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury, a closed displaced traumatic fracture of the right and left humerus with a left radial nerve injury, and a 5th metatarsal fracture on the right foot. She was hospitalized for a week, undergoing ORIF of the left and right humerus bones and her right foot was casted. She then transferred to a rehabilitation center for two weeks to undergo physical therapy and cognitive treatment for memory, speech and language disorders from the TBI. She continued that therapy for an additional eight months as an outpatient and did not return to full-time work until 14 months after the accident.
- Plaintiff's Contentions:
Plaintiff claimed that Call, who wore the nickname “Booty Call” on his leathers, was a hooligan who tried to impress women with dangerous two-up thrill rides. Further, that defendant Keigwins@TheTrack, Inc. condoned Call's conduct for years. Plaintiff’s two-up ride was "crazy fast" with deep lean angles, knee dragging, wheelies, and unsafe passing, which was not requested or expected. The crash was due to Call's recklessness and his disregard of impending rain.
- Defendant's Contentions:
Defendants argued Call was a seasoned, talented rider and the two-up ride was instructional. Argued assumption of the risk; that plaintiff embellished events and vilified Call to work around the liabiltiy waiver and release by claiming gross negligence. The crash was caused by an unexpected slick spot on the track, not excessive speed or lack of care. There was comparative fault by plaintiff, the second rider, and the race track.
Defendants argued, with supporting social media evidence, that plaintiff overstated the extent and effect of her injuries and degree of TBI was grossly exaggerated.
Injuries and Other Damages
- Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:
Progressive cognitive deterioration due to traumatic brain injury and residual orthopedic limitations permanently reducing quality of life.
Past and future loss of earnings of $2,480,160 due to eventual 40-60% loss of earning capacity. Past and future medical expenses of $364,000; past and future pain and suffering $3,000,000 to $5,000,000.
Demands and Offers
- Plaintiff §998 Demand: Served on both defendants, totaling $2 million.
- Defendant §998 Offer: $375,000