Tran v. Arellano

2011 Lexis 3004 2011 WL 1548344 (2018)


D was driving his pickup truck and failed to stop as required and collided with P's Honda Acura as P was driving through the intersection. D's truck intruded about 20 inches into the driver's side of P's car, causing P to sustain severe and permanent brain injuries. P's guardian ad litem filed a complaint on behalf of P against D; D's employer Brinker International, Inc., doing business as Chili's Restaurant, Inc. (Chili's); the City of San Diego (the City); and Patricia Cole (Cole), the owner of the property on the northwest corner of Commonwealth and Juniper. P claimed he was prevented from seeing any southbound traffic due to the existence of foliage higher than three feet that started on the northwest corner of the intersection 'and continued uninterrupted northbound along the western edge of the street.' The complaint includes causes of action for negligence against D, Chili's, and Cole; negligence per se against D and Cole, and causes of action for dangerous condition of public property against the City. D alleged that a 'producing cause' of P's injuries was a defective and dangerous airbag system in his Acura. At trial, D claimed that the intersection where the accident occurred was a dangerous condition of public property because his view of the stop sign was obstructed by a row of oleander bushes just north of the stop sign. He also claimed the stop sign was difficult to see because it was backlit by a street light at the intersection. The City entered into a 'Mary Carter' settlement agreement with P whereby it paid him $1,000,000 but remained in the case as a cross-complainant against D and to and defend against D's claims, and Tran agreed to reimburse $250,000 of the settlement if he recovered over $10,000,000 against D. The jury returned a special verdict finding damages in the total amount $24,804,135 and that D was 100 percent responsible for those damages. The court entered judgment in Tran's favor and against D in the reduced amount of $23,370,747. P appealed in part claiming that the verdict was due to prejudice from improper closing arguments.