Plaintiff was a registered nurse commuting to her home in San Francisco from her employment in Marin County. Defendant was an executive for the San Francisco Giants Baseball Team commuting to his home in Marin County from his employment at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Plaintiff was southbound on Park Presidio Boulevard and Defendant was northbound on Park Presidio Blvd. At the intersection of Park Presidio and Lake Street in San Francisco, one of drivers allowed their vehicle to move left across the center-line and cause a major head-on collision accident. Neither party had a reason to turn left on Lake Street. Each driver claimed they were in their lane of travel when the other vehicle suddenly moved left and caused the collision.
The only eyewitness to the accident was an uninvolved and unbiased passenger in a vehicle traveling directly behind the Plaintiff’s vehicle. The witness testified at trial that he clearly observed the Plaintiff’s vehicle suddenly speed up and move left across the center-line and cause the accident. The investigating police officer’s traffic collision report found the area of impact to be entirely within the Defendant’s northbound lane of travel and; accordingly, found the Plaintiff to be the sole cause of the accident. The defense named the officer as a non-retained expert witness. However, following a Voir Dire of the police officer outside the presence of the jury, the Judge ruled that the officer could not testify regarding his opinions as to the area of impact or as to fault. The Judge reasoned that the officer did not have sufficient facts from which to reasonably rely upon in support of his opinions.
Plaintiff’s accident re-constructionist expert, Laurence Neuman, P.E., testified that the angle of impact on the damaged vehicles supported a conclusion that the Defendant’s vehicle had moved left across the center-line. The expert further testified that, based upon the basic principles of physics, the undisputed points of rest of the two involved vehicles supported the Plaintiff’s version of the accident.
Plaintiff sustained fractures to her left clavicle, two left-side ribs, sternum, and right ankle. The right ankle injury required an open reduction internal fixation surgery to repair. Plaintiff underwent a minor second surgery to remove a screw from her ankle. Plaintiff was an in-patient at S.F. General Hospital of 6 days following the accident. She then spent 8 additional days as a patient at a Skilled Nursing Facility in San Francisco. Plaintiff was able to return to her full-time employment as a Registered Nurse, without restriction, only 14 weeks after the accident. Her recovery was described as “excellent.” However, she testified that she continues to suffer some ankle pain and stiffness after physical activity. Her surgeon, Meir Marmor, M.D. testified via videotape deposition that his patient can expect more ankle symptoms in the future due to likely accelerated arthritis of the right ankle joint.
The Defendant was insured by State Farm Insurance Company, and had a policy limit of $500,000.00. The first and only settlement offer from the defense came in the form of a CCP 998 ($50,000.00) hand-served 10 days before the commencement of trial. Trial attorney for Plaintiff was Stewart P. Galbraith of Penney & Associates.