On the morning of August 17, 2008, Plaintiff, Joseph Tucker, a 29-year-old Treasury Associate at Wells Fargo, was riding his bicycle in the left lane when a San Francisco tourist bus merged into his lane of travel, sideswiping him. Plaintiff landed on his face, thereby causing multiple fractures to his mandible. The repair of Plaintiff’s face took nine hours of surgery, ten screws and two metal plates.
The driver of the bus did not stop after hitting Plaintiff. Instead, witnesses to the accident chased down the tourist bus, and identified the owner as Lorrie’s Travel and Tours, Inc. During the discovery phase of the lawsuit, Defendant Lorrie’s Travel and Tours’ internal documents revealed that of their 15 bus drivers, only four were present in the Union Square area at the time Plaintiff was hit; of those four, only one, Rufino Mejia, was on the exact street. Prior to trial, Defendant Lorrie’s Travel and Tours settled with Plaintiff for $250,000. Thus, Plaintiff’s action proceeded to trial only against the Defendant Driver, Rufino Mejia.
At trial, Defendant Driver claimed there was no contact between the bus and Plaintiff, and that Plaintiff veered from the left lane into his lane. Further, an accident reconstruction expert for the defense opined that Plaintiff probably over-braked, sending himself over the handlebars. Defendant Driver’s expert showed that Plaintiff’s bike was on a fixed gear bicycle with a single break, which requires riders to peddle backwards to brake, rather than using handlebars to brake.
A San Francisco County jury returned a verdict for Plaintiff, finding Defendant Driver liable for $152,773 in past medical costs, $235,200 in future medical costs, $5,200 in lost wages, $150,000 in past pain & suffering and $50,000 in future pain & suffering, for a total recovery of $593,173.
COURT: Superior Court of San Francisco County