Sacramento Pedestrian Hit By Fatigued Driver, Part 1 of 11

The following blog entry is written to illustrate a common motion filed during civil litigation. Reviewing this kind of filing should help potential plaintiffs and clients better understand how parties in personal injury cases present such issues to the court.

(Please also note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this automobile accident lawsuit and its proceedings.)

Plaintiff’s Opposition to Defendant Susan Lee, M.D.’s Motion to Strike Punitive Damages from First Amended Complaint

On June 16, 2009, at approximately 1:00 p.m. in the afternoon, Defendant Susan Lee, M.D., fell asleep while driving and struck down the Plaintiff, David Hall, with her car as he was jogging on the sidewalk. Dr. Lee caused David to sustain serious and permanent injuries, including: traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, thoracic spine fractures, left fibula fracture, multiple lacerations, severe abrasions (road rash) from his upper back, arms, knees, thighs and toes, and contusions.

As part of her training at National Hospital, Dr. Lee was taught about the dangerous probable consequences of operating a motor vehicle while sleepy or fatigued. Despite the training, Dr. Lee, who is to do no. harm as a physician, left National Hospital where she had been working and awake for at least 18 consecutive hours, and drove home in a sleepy and fatigued condition. She was significantly impaired and unable to drive home safely.

For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.

Consistent with applicable law, Plaintiff has sufficiently alleged facts establishing how Dr. Lee acted with malice and with a willful and knowing disregard of the rights or safety of Plaintiff by her being extremely aware of the probable dangerous consequences of driving while sleepy or fatigued and deliberately failing to avoid the consequences. Plaintiff also sufficiently alleged facts that established how Dr. Lee acted with oppression by subjecting Plaintiff to serious physical injuries in knowing disregard of his right to safety. (Id.) Given her training at National Hospital, Dr. Lee should have avoided driving home on June 16, 2009.

Plaintiff’s allegations supporting his punitive damages claims are not irrelevant or conclusory. The allegations set forth actual facts regarding Dr. Lee’s extensive training on how to acknowledge and avoid the dangerous conduct that gave rise to the present litigation. Facts establishing Dr. Lee’s training on fatigue and sleep-deprivation are directly relevant here.

Further, Dr. Lee’s decision to drive while impaired is no different than a person driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in conscious disregard for the safety of others. Punitive damages are routinely pled in motor vehicle accident cases where the defendant was driving under the influence. See, e.g., Peterson v. Superior Ct. (1982) 31 Cal. 3d 147; Taylor v. Superior Ct. (1979) 24 Cal.3d 890, 894. In fact, Plaintiff is clearly entitled to plead punitive damages under statutory and common law rights controlling his causes of action. Those include: Civ. Code § 3294; Potter v. Firestone & Rubber Co. (1993) 6 Cal.4th 965, 985; Taylor, 24 Cal.3d at 894. (See Part 2 of 11.)

For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.

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