Representative Cases: Please note that every legal matter is different. The outcome of each legal case depends upon many factors, including the facts of the case, and no attorney can guarantee a positive result in any particular case. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.
Bicycle vs. Semi-Truck – Truck Driver Makes Right Turn and Runs Over Bicyclist: $4.325 Million Settlement
Our client, a 23-year-old recent UC Berkeley graduate, was riding her bicycle in downtown Oakland alongside a semi-truck, when the truck driver made a right turn at an intersection, knocked her off her bike and ran over her with his front wheels. Our client suffered a crushed pelvis, nerve damage to her left hand and foot, and orthopedic injuries to her knee and tailbone, along with severe emotional distress. We sued the truck driver for negligent driving, and sued the truck company for negligent hiring and training of its driver. The defendants claimed its driver was not negligent because he had his right blinker on and he claimed he constantly checked his mirrors throughout his turn. The driver claimed never to have seen our client before the collision. The defendants also claimed our client was at fault for unlawfully riding her bicycle in the crosswalk. By hiring accident reconstruction experts and conducting visibility studies of the accident scene using an exemplar semi-truck, we pointed out numerous inconsistencies in the truck driver’s story, and showed he violated several Vehicle Code sections, including, failing to use his turn signal and yield the right of way to the cyclist. After two mediations, Partner Mark Fong and former Partner Seth Rosenberg settled the case for $4,325,000 shortly before trial.
Cyclist Killed by Muni Bus : $3.25 Million Settlement
We represented the family of a 78-year-old man who was killed by a MUNI bus while riding his bicycle in the South of Market neighborhood of San Francisco. The bus passed our client’s husband and father, then crossed into his lane in order to pull into a bus stop. The bus either hit him or caused him to lose control of his bike and fall underneath the rear tire of the bus, killing him instantly. The police report stated the man caused his own death by turning into the bus, citing an eyewitness. However, at his deposition, this eyewitness stated the bus turned into the man’s path, in effect “cutting him off.” Partner Mark Fong and Associate Seema Bhatt argued the bus driver violated MUNI’s policy which required its drivers to maintain at least 3 feet of clearance from other vehicles, including cyclists. We also argued the bus was missing its “S-1 Gard,” a wheel guard which keeps persons who fall under buses from being run over by the wheels. The case settled for $3.25 Million.
Motorcyclist vs. Delivery Truck: $2.8 Million Settlement
On March 20, 2014, our client “Paul” was riding his motorcycle through an intersection when a delivery truck ran a red light and hit him. Paul suffered injuries which included fractures of his shoulder bone, ankle, pelvis, a vertebra in his mid-back, and ribs. The van was driven by a man who claimed grueling overtime hours and an unreasonable amount of deliveries had caused his excessive speed and inattention. Although Paul made a significant recovery from his injuries, he was rendered disabled from work and restricted in his hobbies, which included practicing martial arts and ballet. We also claimed Paul was unable to attend the classes he needed to finish his Master’s Degree in the U.S. Without this degree, he was unable to maintain the sponsorship he needed to stay in the U.S., so was forced to return to Hong Kong, his place of origin. Partners Dale Minami and Mark Fong settled Paul’s case for $2.8 Million at mediation.
Motorcycle vs. Tractor-Trailer: $1 Million Settlement for Wife of Motorcyclist
Minami Tamaki LLP represented the wife of a 62-year-old retired mechanic who was riding his motorcycle in Stanislaus County when a tractor-trailer owned by a local farm turned left in front of him, causing him to apply his brakes to try to avoid a collision. The motorcyclist then lost control of his motorcycle and was thrown off it. As a result, he suffered fatal head injuries. The motorcyclist did not strike the tractor-trailer, and the defense claimed the motorcyclist caused his own injuries by negligently losing control of his motorcycle. The motorcyclist was also not wearing a DOT-approved helmet as required by law, which the defense claimed would have saved his life had he worn it. When the defense refused to make a settlement offer, the client’s then-attorney referred the case to our firm. We hired engineering experts to reconstruct the accident and showed that, based on the speeds of the two vehicles, the motorcyclist would have impacted the tractor-trailer had he not laid down his bike. Therefore, we argued, the motorcyclist was not negligent, and liability rested solely on the driver of the tractor-trailer. We hired an expert in helmet biomechanics to show it was impossible to say that a DOT-approved helmet would have saved the motorcyclist’s life. As the defendants had the burden of proving this, they could not prevail on their claim. We also assembled a settlement package which showed the depth of the relationship between the motorcyclist and his wife during their relatively brief marriage. Through the work of attorneys Seema Bhatt, Mark Fong, and the rest of the Personal Injury team, we were able to obtain the $1,000,000 limits of the farm’s primary insurance policy for the widow.
Bicycle vs. Auto: The Search For Excess Insurance Coverage – $1 Million Settlement
Our 34 year old client Johnny was riding his mountain bike in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco when a car turned left in front of him while he was riding through an intersection, causing them to collide. Johnny suffered fractures to the vertebra in his mid-back and traumatic brain injury. He was unable to work as a delivery person for his family’s business for a period of time, but fortunately went on to make a good recovery. His medical bills exceeded the $100,000 policy limits of the insurance company for the driver who hit him. We determined that Johnny and his wife lived several days a week at his wife’s parents’ home, as well as at their own separate residence. We successfully argued that, due to his dual residence, he was covered for the crash under his in-laws’ personal auto insurance policy. In this way, we recovered $400,000 for Johnny from this insurance company, in addition to the $100,000 paid by the driver’s insurance. Next, because Johnny was an employee of his father-in-law’s business, we made a claim on the business’ commercial auto insurance policy. By providing physical evidence and statements under oath to prove Johnny’s dual residence, we obtained another $500,000 in insurance money for him. In total, his case settled for $1,000,000. Partners Mark Fong and Dale Minami handled Johnny’s case.
Motorcycle vs. Auto: $740,000 Arbitration Award
Our client, Yoav, a 40-year-old line cook at Alta Bates Hospital, was driving his motorcycle in Oakland when he struck a car that pulled out in front of him from a side street. After two operations to repair his knee and shoulder, Yoav was no longer able to perform his job as a cook, so went back to college to retrain himself to a new occupation. The theme we presented to the arbitrator in binding judicial arbitration was Yoav’s inability to be a cook any longer, after years of working in the restaurant industry, was not simply the loss of a job but the loss of his dream of being a cook/chef. Since the case could not resolve informally, partner Dale Minami and associate Eunice Yang began litigation but proposed binding arbitration, since that forum offered advantages to our client. The case was tried by Partner Mark Fong and former Associate Eunice Yang. The arbitrator awarded total damages to Yoav and his wife (who sued for loss of consortium) in the amount of $740,432.75. $375,000 of this award was for Yoav’s pain and suffering.
Product Liability – Bicycle Fork Snaps While Riding: $450,000 Settlement
We represented a 60-year-old cyclist who was riding his bicycle through a parking lot in Palm Desert, California, when the bike’s carbon fiber front fork suddenly snapped, causing our client to fall forward and strike his face on the roadway. He suffered fractures of his eye socket, bleeding on his brain, and traumatic brain injury. He and his wife filed suit for product liability against the bicycle manufacturer and the store which sold him his bike, alleging the fork was defectively designed and manufactured. We argued the fork was designed with insufficient layers of carbon fiber, which made the spot where the fork snapped dangerously weak. We also argued the fork was defectively manufactured, in that it had voids and delamination (separation) of the layers of carbon fiber which were supposed to give the fork its strength. The Defendants knew of the dangers of delamination, as they warned of this risk in the bicycle’s Owner’s Manual, and instructed owners to inspect their bicycles for signs of delamination. Partner Mark Fong, Associate Seema Bhatt, and Partner Dale Minami, prosecuted this case to recover the cyclist’s medical bills, loss of earnings, and damages for his pain and suffering, as well as his wife’s loss of his companionship (consortium.) The case settled for $450,000.