VEHICLE ACCIDENT CASE - HIGHWAY 20; $2.4 MILLION DOLLARS Head-on Collision, Timbuctoo, Ca: Yes, in fact there is a place called Timbuctoo. Ray Lewis represented a 52 year old female involved in a head-on collision on rural Highway 20 in Northern California. The other car, which lost control and crossed over the center line, was driven by an employee of a large national corporation on his way home from work. A significantly contested issue in the action was whether the employee was in the course and scope of his employment at the time of the accident. Our client was airlifted from the accident scene to the hospital, where she remained in the intensive care unit for seven days. She sustained significant injuries including five fractured ribs, a ruptured spleen, a lacerated liver, a fractured elbow, a fractured wrist, a shattered left femur, a broken pelvis, a fractured left ankle, and crush injuries to her left foot. She was disabled from her occupation as a massage therapist. We brought a motion for summary judgment on the course and scope of employment issue, and utilized the mediation process in order to effectuate a $2,400,000.00 settlement for our client prior to trial.
GOVERNMENT TORT LIABILITY, DANGEROUS CONDITION OF PUBLIC PROPERTY; Parents of minor child v. City of Sacramento, Wrongful death action:In a case handled by Ray Lewis, a large tree limb fell from an English Elm tree in a downtown City park onto a small infant lying in his stroller, causing his death.We investigated the history of the park and found that two years earlier, the City had designed and built a children's playground directly underneath two 100 year old elm trees without performing a written tree hazard evaluation during the master planning process, and that there had been numerous elm tree limb failures in the past 10 years, including four large limb failures from the same elm trees in the eight months prior to the incident.The case we filed was predicated on the City having notice of the prior limb failures, and creating a dangerous condition when they build the playground directly under the elm trees without trimming potentially dangerous limbs, and taking adequate measures to minimize the risks of potential limb failure.The City intended to introduce evidence that the elm trees had been trimmed and pruned within a year preceding the installation of the park improvements and that there was no way to predict the limb failure.Utilizing the mediation process, the City of Sacramento agreed to pay the parents of the minor child the sum of $1,200,000.00, in order to avoid going to trial.
Single car automobile accident (rollover) shoulder injury, Marin County:In this personal injury claim handled by Ray Lewis, we obtained a total settlement of $354,000.00 for a passenger involved in a single car rollover on Sir Francis Drake Blvd. in Marin County that included the tender of $300,000.00 policy limits from the defendant driver.Our client was a back seat passenger in the rollover and sustained a fractured shoulder when she braced for the rollover with her arm up on the roof of the vehicle.She exhibited symptoms of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy following the incident.
Head on collision, South River Road, Yolo County:In this personal injury action arising out of an automobile accident, Ray Lewis represented the driver of a van who was traveling with his family when hit head-on by a drunk driver as they were proceeding south on SR 160 near Courtland, CA.Our client's orthopedic surgeon testified regarding his knee injuries and that he may require knee surgery and/or replacement sometime in the future.A settlement of $240,000.00 was obtained for the driver based on the physician's testimony.
Automobile accident, personal injury claim, Ferrari Boxer v. Tree, State of Oregon:We represented the passenger riding in a Ferrari Boxer that was involved in a single car auto accident (crash into a tree) in the State of Oregon.Our client sustained disc injury to his neck that required a C5-6 fusion.The defense attorneys alleged that the incident occurred as a result of both driver and passenger being under the influence of alcohol after a class reunion, who then left the scene of the incident.Mr. Lewis negotiated a successful settlement of the neck injury claim at mediation for $285,000.00.
WRONGFUL DEATH / PRODUCTS LIABILITY
Jeep CJ5 Rollover:Phil Hiroshima represented a 40 year-old male, who was driving on a country road through an “S” curve at night.The single vehicle accident had no witnesses and the deceased driver was later found seat belted in the rolled vehicle.Our accident reconstruction experts determined the speed of the vehicle at the time of rollover was within the speed limits of the road by using photographs, road gauges and other physical evidence.The Jeep had been modified by the owner which raised the center of gravity.Our office presented a claim to the manufacture contending defective design and a propensity to roll and that the manufacture failed to warn of the defect in the design of the vehicle. The case was litigated and settled before trial for a sum in excess of $750,000.00.
CONSTRUCTION SITE INJURY / TOXIC PRODUCTS
Toxic Exposure – Caulking Sealant.In another case handled by Mr. Hiroshima, a 55 year-old welder was working in an enclosed area welding sheet metal units in a commercial building.The sealant he was using had toxic compounds that produced “off gases” when heated from welding.The welder had a pre-existing heart condition.While working, he began to faint repeatedly.The defense claimed the worker had an aortic heart valve replacement causing his condition.Our experts discovered Hexane and Toluene in the material that the manufacturer failed to warn about, particularly for a person with a heart condition.During discovery, we found that the manufacturer of the product received warnings from the supplier of the raw materials that were included in the Material Data Safety Sheets (MSDS).The manufacturer decided on their own that warnings were not necessary for the product.
Due to the toxic exposure, the welder began to show symptoms of narrowing (stenosis) of the aortic valve.His doctors performed a heart valve replacement which caused a clot and stroke on the eve of trial.His doctors testified that had they known that the sealant caused the same symptoms as an aortic stenosis, they would not have performed the valve replacement which posed a risk of a clot.On the eve of trial, defendants settled the case in excess of $1,000,000.00.
PRODUCT LIABILITY/DEFECTIVE PRODUCTS
Ford transmission “Park to Reverse” cases:Mr. Hiroshima represented two individuals involved in “park to reverse” actions.
Case One – Personal Injury claim:Our client, a 50 year old male driver of a Ford pickup truck had put his vehicle in “park” with engine idling and walked behind the vehicle.The transmission “jumped” from park to reverse causing severe and disabling injuries.We filed an action against Ford for design defect and for failure to warn.Ford claimed the driver failed to put the emergency brake on, failed to stop the engine before leaving the vehicle and failed to put the vehicle in park properly.After discovery, the manufacturer agreed to settle the case provided the terms of the settlement were confidential.Case settled for a substantial amount to the complete satisfaction of the driver.
Case Two: Wrongful Death Action.35 year old male driver of a Ford pickup truck had been drinking 4-5 hours at a local country bar.Driving home, he pulled off the side of the road and opened the door.The vehicle jumped from park to reverse, the driver grabbed the steering wheel and the vehicle backed up into a ditch behind him.The open door of the truck pinned him in the water where he drowned.The vehicle was found by duck hunters at 5 a.m. with the motor still running, gear shift lever in “park”.An autopsy revealed an empty bladder at the time of death and the cause of death was drowning.His blood alcohol level was over the legal limit.
The heirs of the driver contacted four other law firms who declined representation due to lack of evidence.Mr. Hiroshima accepted the case, began investigation and contended that the driver left the bar, drove a mile, stopped to relieve himself, put the truck in “park” and the transmission “jumped” from park to reverse.Ford's experts disputed the cause of death.On the eve of trial, Ford settled the case for a substantial sum acceptable to their heirs.The court approved the confidential settlement and remarked to Mr. Hiroshima “…your good work in the prosecution of the case has compensated these personal injury plaintiffs for their loss.”
Defective Winch, Ryder Car Carrying Trailer, Neck Injury, Lassen County:Mr. Lewis represented a woman who was reaching inside the driver's door of the family car to steer it up and onto a Ryder Car Carrying Trailer while her husband operated the winch on the front of the trailer.The winch failed, and the open driver's side door knocked the wife off the side of the trailer where she was standing when the vehicle rolled back.The defense claimed that she was negligent for not being properly seated inside the vehicle as she was steering.We proved that the winch failed and released the car while in the locked position and obtained a mediated settlement from three manufacturers in the chain of commerce of $150,000.00 for the neck injury she sustained when the car pushed her off the trailer.
PREMISES LIABILITY / TRIP AND FALL
Dog owner liability:In this unfortunate incident, an elderly homeowner was knocked to the ground by her neighbor's dog.This “Pocket” area resident of Sacramento walked out her front door one morning and was charged and knocked to the ground by a neighbor's dog.She sustained a broken hip causing her to be admitted to a nursing home.Her neighbor had returned from a shopping trip, opened the garage door and failed to control the dog.Mr. Lewis obtained a policy limit settlement of $300,000.00.
Minor child v. Six Flags Marine World:Mr. Lewis filed this personal injury action in Solano County and represented a nine year old boy against Six Flags Marine World of Vallejo, CA when he was thrown from a ride sustaining a laceration on the back of his knee which left residual scarring as well as multiple soft-tissue injuries.We alleged that the ride operator was negligent and the ride was defectively designed.The Defendants claimed the boy climbed out of the ride carriage, was comparatively negligent and caused his own injuries.In a court approved settlement for the minor child, the claim was resolved in the sum of $150,000.00 for the plaintiffs.
Tourist v. Office Products Supplier, San Francisco:Mr. Lewis also filed and handled this action arising out of a trip and fall incident against a national office supply retailer.Our client was visiting San Francisco and was tripped by a delivery person on the Market Street sidewalk in the financial district of the City.The delivery person was loading a sidewalk elevator with paper products on a dolly.The office supplier claimed our client was not watching where she was going and that her negligence caused her own injuries which included a fractured humerus.We successfully concluded the case for $100,000.00.