Liability disputed after defendant tries to unsafely pass a semi, causing plaintiff to crash. $408K. Fresno County.

Summary

Defendant maintains he did not cause the accident, a head-on collision with the rear axle of a semi-truck.

The Case

  • Case Name: Ricardo Salcedo v. Porfirio Amaya
  • Court and Case Number: Fresno Superior Court / 19CECG00845
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, July 07, 2021
  • Date Action was Filed: Friday, March 08, 2019
  • Type of Action: Vehicles - Truck vs. Auto
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Rosemary McGuire
  • Plaintiffs:
    Ricardo Salcedo, 36, poultry brooder
  • Defendants:
    Porfirio Amaya
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $408,523
  • Net Verdict or Award: $367,670.70 after 10% contributory negligence by plaintiff.
  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: 10% to plaintiff.
  • Economic Damages:

    Past lost earnings: $36,362

    Future lost earnings: $19,161

    Past medical expenses: $65,800

    Future medical expenses: $17,200

    Total: $138,523

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past: $90,000

    Future: $180,000

    Total non-economic: $270,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 6 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 1/2 days
  • Jury Polls: 12-0 on liability; 10-2 on damages
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: None filed to date.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Fowler Helsel Vogt by Jason A. Helsel and Mark A. Vogt, Fresno.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Peel Garcia LLP by James Peel, Fresno.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    James Wilson, Ph.D., neuropsychology.

    Bradley Jabour, M.D., neuroradiology

    Ali Najafi, M.D., neurosurgery

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    David Pingitore, Ph.D., neuropsychology.

    Paul Kaloostian, M.D., neurosurgery.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Ed Fatzinger, Jr., MS, PE, accident reconstruction.

    Jeffrey Sarkisian, M.S., vocational rehabilitation.

    Laura Ines, economics.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Daniel Desautels, M.S. P.E., accident reconstruction.

    Benjamin Ewers, Ph.D.

    Nancy Faser Michalski, R.N., billing.

    Steven Molina, Ph.D., vocational rehabilitation.

    David Weinter, M.B.A., economics.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff was injured when his vehicle collided head-on with the rear axle of a semi tractor-trailer at 5 a.m., as the sun began to rise.

    Plaintiff was lawfully traveling on the single eastbound lane of Mountain View Avenue in Caruthers. Driving in the opposite direction on the single westbound lane of Mountain View Avenue in front of plaintiff (in order of proximity to plaintiff) was a semi-tractor trailer truck followed by a commercial box truck, which was followed by a Chevy Silverado pickup truck driven by defendant. Defendant attempted to pass the two commercial trucks and turned into the eastbound lane (traveling west) on Mountain View Avenue. To avoid a head-on collision with plaintiff, defendant swerved back into the westbound lane in between the semi and the white box truck. Meanwhile, plaintiff, faced with a sudden and unexpected emergency situation, applied his brakes and his vehicle moved to the left, where it collided with the rear axle of the trailer on the semi, directly ahead of defendant's truck. The white box truck then collided with defendant's pickup truck.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That defendant driver was negligently and dangerously operating his vehicle in violation of California Vehicle Code, Section 21750 – unsafe overtaking and passing of another vehicle and was the sole cause of the collision.

    Also, that defendant was traveling in excess of the posted speed limit at the time he was overtaking the white box truck, which led to the collision. Finally, that defendant was not wearing his corrective lenses at the time of the collision, and suffered from near-sightedness, poor depth perception, and restricted vision at night.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Throughout the case and at trial, defendant contended that the lane change did not cause any collision because defendant maneuvered back into his own lane prior to the impacts. Defendant argued for a complete defense verdict at trial, accepting no responsibility.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Plaintiff suffered multi-level disc herniation with free fragments compression against the spinal cord and a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI). After several injections, plaintiff underwent an anterior cervical discectomy with disc replacement at C4/C5 and C5/C6.

  • Because of the severity of plaintiff's injuries, plaintiff was unable to work for approximately 34 months after the collision and suffered a loss of income. As a result of the TBI, plaintiff's earning capacity was also diminished. Plaintiff sought compensation for both.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $35,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $120,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $36,362.00

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $1,250,000
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $15,000 policy limits.

Additional Notes

Defendant's top offer remained $15,000. A CCP 998 was issued by defendant in that amount. Defendant asked the jury to return a defense verdict on liability.

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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