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$4,500,000 Auto Versus Truck

$4,500,000

In 2017 Attorneys Arash Homampour and Scott Boyer settled a particularly tough Auto versus Truck case for $4.5 million against the City of Los Angeles.

Plaintiff, a 53 year old man (at the time of incident), had a great career and life that he loved. Prior to the incident, he was active and enjoyed working as a union truck driver for television and motion pictures. However, all of that changed when Defendants failed to use due care by parking their City tractor and 43 foot long trailer illegally in the middle of Los Feliz Blvd. (one of busiest thoroughfares in Los Angeles) with no flare pattern, cones or other warning sign, partially blocking each of the number one east and west lanes of traffic. As a result of Defendants’ negligence, Plaintiff’s vehicle struck the back of the trailer, causing him to suffer major injuries. In fact, as evidenced by the photo below, Plaintiff is lucky to be alive.

Extensive damage to Car

Defendants

Defendants were employed by the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services as heavy duty truck operators. In this position, they drive a tractor trailer for delivery of heavy equipment to City crews making City repairs. Defendants drove the truck and 43 foot trailer nicknamed the “dovetail” because it has a tail that folds up and down to the ground.

City vehicle with Dovetail

The “dovetail” (as well as the other similar Street Services trucks) was to be equipped with cones and flares to be used to block vehicular lanes and warn approaching vehicles if the truck was parked in any portion of a vehicle lane. Defendants have also used a flag man where one of them warns other drivers and directs traffic away from the parked truck.

Incident Location

The incident occurred on Los Feliz Blvd., approximately 100 feet west of the intersection with Winona Blvd. At the location, Los Feliz Blvd. runs east and west with two lanes of traffic for both westbound and eastbound traffic. The traffic lanes are noticeably narrow and they are divided in an east/west direction by double yellow painted markings.

At the location, there are several signs which state no parking at any time, tow zone, no stopping between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. and an anti-gridlock zone sign.

Clearly visible no parking signs

Winona Blvd. (where the equipment was to be delivered) is a residential street consisting of wide lanes (at least forty feet wide) for traffic and parking.

Winona Blvd.

Los Feliz Blvd. is inclined at the location which impedes the vision of westbound traffic approaching Winona Blvd. Los Feliz Blvd. crowns just east of Winona Blvd.

Defendants were familiar with the location and described it as “people always speed on Los Feliz Boulevard, there have been a lot of people killed on Los Feliz Boulevard” and “Los Feliz is never safe there no matter what you do”.

Incident

Defendants arrived at the location between 5:00 and 5:30 a.m. Because “there was not a lot of traffic”, Defendants decided to park in the middle of Los Feliz Blvd. straddling the east and west number one lane of traffic, “split[ting] the double lines right in the middle of the tractor”.

Unbelievably, Defendants deny that they saw the multitude of no parking, etc. signs located directly next to where the truck was parked, and at multiple locations within close proximity to where the truck was parked.

No parking signs clearly visible next to city truck

At no time after parking the truck, did Defendants lay out a flare pattern, lay out cones, place a sign warning oncoming traffic of the hazard or use a flag man to direct traffic safely away from the truck. Defendant testified that they did not use these basic safety measures because that would have taken a few extra minutes, essentially saving Defendants a few extra minutes of inconvenience at the expense of public safety.

At approximately 5:35 a.m., Plaintiff was traveling in the number one lane of westbound Los Feliz Blvd headed to his job at Gower Studios, located approximately five minutes away from the incident scene. Plaintiff was scheduled to start work at 6:00 a.m.

Here is Plaintiff’s view as he approached the intersection of Los Feliz Blvd. and Winona Blvd. while traveling west on Los Feliz Blvd. The subject tractor trailer was parked just west of the second traffic signal.

Los Feliz Blvd. and Winona Blvd at 6:00 AM

Plaintiff did not see the truck parked partially in the number one lane of westbound Los Feliz. As a result, Plaintiff’s vehicle collided with the back of the truck obliterating Plaintiff’s vehicle.

Damage to car from the Dovetail

At the time of the collision, the dovetail was up and Plaintiff’s vehicle went under the dovetail.

City truck showing the raised dovetail

Unfortunately, because of the injuries he suffered, Plaintiff has no recollection of the collision. In fact, the last thing he recalls from the day of the incident was leaving his home to travel to work. He has foggy memories of a few details (e.g. seeing someone in an orange suit talking to him) after the incident but essentially he has no good clear recall until three days later when he was in the hospital.

As a result of the incident, Plaintiff suffered serious injuries, including subdural hemorrhage, brain hemotoma, traumatic brain injury, multiple facial fractures, severed auditory nerve, including loss of hearing in the left ear, multiple body contusions and broken toes. He has had foot surgery and continues to experience debilitating bouts of vertigo, anxiety, including panic attacks, memory and concentration difficulties, headaches and foot, wrist and leg pain.

The Result

The city contended that their employee had followed all the correct procedures for warning oncoming traffic of a stopped vehicle, including the fact that the semi-truck’s emergency lights had been activated before the collision occurred.  Additionally, the City argued that the plaintiff was driving in excess of the speed limit, contributing significantly to his injuries.

Through aggressive litigation the Homampour team were able to show that regardless of plaintiff’s excessive speed, the City employee had indeed negligently operated parked the semi-truck when delivering equipment to a city work project, resulting in the City settling before trial for $4.5 million.


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