Defendant California Department of Transportation (“Cal Trans”) contracted with Defendant DeSilva Gates Construction L.P. (DeSilva Gates) to perform a highway improvement construction project on I-580 near the “Altamont Pass” in Livermore, California. Defendant Mike Boyd Water Trucks was subcontracted to provide water trucking services for the project. Defendant Musu Bennett was hired by Defendant Boyd to drive a large water truck and deliver water to the construction zone.
Mr. Courtney was traveling eastbound on I-580 in the #1 one lane (far left, near the center median). Defendant Bennett was traveling in the #4 lane (far right, near the shoulder). She observed a construction “cone zone” and figured that was where she needed to enter in order to get to the construction zone. The Defendant alleged that she looked in her mirrors and did not see cars close to her. She switched lanes into the #1 lane and entered the path of Mr. Courtney’s vehicle. Mr. Courtney attempted to avoid the collision by honking his horn and slamming on his brakes, but it was too late. Defendant Bennett collided with the right front portion of Mr. Courtney’s vehicle causing his vehicle to spin, and then flip.
It was discovered, that Defendant Bennett was operating a large water truck with a suspended California driver’s license. Plaintiff alleged that Defendants Cal Trans, DeSilva Gates and Mike Boyd Water Trucks were liable as hirers of Defendant Bennett because none of complied with duty to hire a properly licensed employee/subcontractor. It was further alleged this type of work carried a “peculiar risk” (strict liability under the peculiar risk doctrine) and therefore the Defendants were required to prepare and institute a safe traffic control plan, provide specific instructions on how to access (enter or exit) the construction zone, and post proper signage and warnings in and around the entrance of construction zone to advise workers and warn motorists of trucks entering and exiting the highway. Plaintiffs were able to prove that the Defendants failed to do any of these requirements.
As a result of the collision, Mr. Courtney suffered a right hip/pelvis fracture, which required an internal fixation with plates and screws. Mr. Courtney was also diagnosed with right carpel tunnel syndrome, right hip joint paint, and a right knee condition that has required injection therapy.
Mr. Courtney missed a few months of work, but went back to working full time as a law enforcement officer. Plaintiff’s alleged that Mr. Courtney would require a total hip replacement in the future that would leave him incapable of continuing his career in law enforcement. Defendants’ disputed that he needed a hip replacement and even if one was required, it would actually improve his condition and that he would still be able to fulfill his work life expectancy in law enforcement.
The matter resolved for $2,300,000, which included $50,000 being paid to Defendant DeSilva Gates Construction L.P. by Defendants Mike Boyd Water Trucks, Robert Michael Boyd and Kathleen Diane Boyd as part of an indemnification agreement.