Motorcyclist claimed multiple injuries from intersection crash
|Intersection, Motor Vehicle - Truck, Motor Vehicle - Motorcycle|
|Sean Choy v. Mori Hatsushi, Tomiko Hatsushi, Mori Hatsushi & Associates Inc., Hatsushi Leasing Inc., M Hatsushi Landscaping and the Estate of Masaru Hatsushi, No. MSC07-02532|
|Superior Court of Contra Costa County, Martinez, CA|
- Steven C. Kirby; Kirby, Kirby and Kirby; Redondo Beach, CA, for Sean Choy
- Aimee E. Kirby; Kirby, Kirby and Kirby; Redondo Beach, CA, for Sean Choy
- Larry Neuman P.E.; Accident Reconstruction; Loomis, CA called by: Steven Kirby, Aimee Kirby
- Ralph Kiernan Ph.D.; Neuropsychology; Redwood City, CA called by: Steven Kirby, Aimee Kirby
- Jerome Barakos M.D.; Neuroradiology; San Francisco, CA called by: Steven Kirby, Aimee Kirby
- Patrick Mason Ph.D.; Economics; San Francisco, CA called by: Steven Kirby, Aimee Kirby
- Joseph Long M.D.; Internal Medicine; Walnut Creek, CA called by: Steven Kirby, Aimee Kirby
- Ralph D. Hughes; Hughes Legal Group, P.C.; Pleasanton, CA, for Mori Hatsushi, Tomiko Hatsushi
- Steven S. Miyake; Teraoka & Partners LLP; San Francisco, CA, for Estate of Masaru Hatsushi
- Frank D. PrestoIII; Law Office of Frank D. Presto III; Pleasanton, CA, for Mori Hatsushi & Associates Inc.
- John Bradley Stuckey; Hughes Legal Group, P.C.; Pleasanton, CA, for Mori Hatsushi, Tomiko Hatsushi
- None reported; null, null, for Hatsushi Leasing Inc., M Hatsushi Landscaping
- Michael Oliveira; Accident Reconstruction; Danville, CA called by: Ralph Hughes, Steven Miyake, Frank Presto, John Stuckey
- Everest National Insurance Co. for all defendants (declined coverage)
On Nov. 7, 2007, at approximately 6:30 a.m., plaintiff Sean Choy, 35, a carpenter, was riding his motorcycle on westbound Pacheco Boulevard in Pacheco when he was involved in a collision with a pickup truck operated by Masaru Hatsushi, who was traveling south on South Buchanan Circle. Choy claimed multiple injuries, including injuries to his brain and spleen.
Choy sued Masaru Hatsushi and his employers, Mori Hatsushi, Tomiko Hatsushi, Hatsushi Leasing Inc.,M Hatsushi Landscaping, and Mori Hatsushi & Associates Inc. Choy alleged that Masaru Hatsushi was negligent in the operation of his vehicle. He also alleged that Mori Hatsushi, Tomiko Hatsushi, Hatsushi Leasing Inc.,M Hatsushi Landscaping, and Mori Hatsushi & Associates were vicariously liable for Masaru Hatsushi's actions.
Masaru Hatsushi died during the course of litigation, and the estate of Masaru Hatsushi was substituted in the action. It was also determined that M Hatsushi Landscaping, which was a company the decedent ran about 10 years ago, was not responsible for any possible judgment because Masaru Hatsushi, as an employee, would be entitled to 100-percent indemnification from Mori Hatsushi & Associates Inc. In addition, Hatsushi Leasing was let out of the case on summary adjudication, but is now part of alter ego trial set for April 15, 2013.
Choy claimed that at the time of the accident, Masaru Hatsushi was an agent of Mori Hatsushi & Associates, as he was taking their corporate equipment to a Kaiser jobsite based on directions from Mori Hatsushi. He alleged that Masaru Hatsushi was retained for five months after he was removed from commercial property due to a bad driving record. Debra Spencer, an agent for the defendants' insurance carrier, Everest National, testified that she told corporate officers at Mori Hatsushi and Associates that Masaru Hatsushi "should not drive for them or it would be on them."
Upon the closure of the plaintiff's case, defense counsel filed motions for nonsuit. As a result, the individual defendants, Mori and Tomiko Hatsushi, were dismissed from the case. Choy subsequently continued against Mori Hatsushi & Associates, and the estate of Masaru Hatsushi only.
Mori Hatsushi & Associates denied employing Masaru at the time of the accident, claiming that he retired the week before. It also claimed that while it owned the equipment, the vehicle being used belonged to Masaru Hatsushi. In addition, counsel Mori Hatsushi & Associates argued that Masaru Hatsushi did not have a bad driving record, that evidence proved Masaru Hatsushi only received one citation during the course of his employment, and that the single accident on record was a "no fault" accident.
Choy sustained multiple injuries, including multiple facial fractures and vertebral fractures. He also suffered a shear injury to the frontal lobe, as well as a ruptured spleen. Choy was subsequently taken from the scene of the accident by ambulance and brought to an emergency room. He remained hospitalized for eight weeks, during which his spleen was removed.
Choy's left arm is paralyzed due to severed nerves in his neck. He also suffers from a facial deformity, memory loss and an inability to multi-task. He claimed he will need psychological and neuropsychological care for the rest of his life to help cope with his depression. Choy further claimed he is now fully disabled from work as a carpenter, and that his enjoyment of life has been affected since he can no longer ride his motorcycle or go camping, and suffers from a fear of crowds.
Thus, Choy sought recovery of $463,671 for his past medical costs, $1 million for his future medical costs, $145,117 for his past loss of earnings, $604,558 for his future loss of earnings, and $8 million for his past and future pain and suffering.
Defense counsel presented no witnesses or figures as to Choy's alleged damages.
The jury found Masaru Hatsushi 100 percent at fault for the accident. Although, it found that Masaru Hatsushi was not an employee at the time of the accident, the jury found that Masaru Hatsushi was under the control of Mori Hatsushi & Associates at the time of the crash. Thus, Choy was awarded $11,900,671.65 in total damages.
$2,000,000 Personal Injury: Past Pain And Suffering
$7,000,000 Personal Injury: Future Pain And Suffering
$650,672 Personal Injury: past economic damages
$2,250,000 Personal Injury: future economic damages
Everest National Insurance Co. declined coverage of the defendants. Thus, a separate bad faith action is pending before the Superior Court in Contra Costa County.
This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff's counsel and counsel for Mori and Tomiko Hatsushi. Counsel for the estate of Masaru Hatsushi and Mori Hatsushi & Associates did not respond to the reporter's phone calls.