News

Jury rejects negligence claim in I-280 accident involving car, horse

 

After a 14-day trial in San Mateo County Superior Court, a 12-person jury denied damages to a Menlo Park physician who had sued the county after she was seriously injured in a 2012 accident when her car struck a dead horse on Interstate 280 and became airborne.

Instead, Dr. Jean W. Gillon, a vascular surgeon, was ordered on July 19 to reimburse the county $144,143 in trial-related fees.

In addition to suing the county, Dr. Gillon sued Stanford University and Webb Ranch (in Ladera). Those complaints were dismissed in February 2015.

Dr. Gillon may seek a retrial. On Aug. 2, her attorney, Anthony L. Label, filed a motion indicating an intention to do so, alleging that the trial was unfair, that there was misconduct by the jury, that there is new and material evidence, and that the evidence presented was insufficient to justify the verdict, among other allegations.

The accident

In the early morning hours of Dec. 29, 2012, three horses managed to escape the paddock at Webb Ranch, according to Tom Hubbard, Webb Ranch's corporate president. All three horses were running loose in the freeway traffic lanes and were struck and killed shortly before 5 a.m. by "passing motorists," including Richard Stein, 65, of Sacramento, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Dr. Gillon, 61 at the time, came on the scene after the collision and ran into one of the downed horses. In the complaint, she asserts that a deputy from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office directed her into a lane in which a horse was lying.

Her car struck the horse, left the ground, returned to earth, collided with a cyclone fence and came to rest off the highway, she says.

The county's court costs, which Dr. Gillon has been ordered to reimburse, are $126,436 for witness fees, $13,394 for deposition costs, $2,806 in court reporter fees, and $1,507 for the jury, according to an itemization prepared by Deputy County Counsel David Levy.

Comments

3 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Aug 18, 2016 at 4:28 pm

Why was the lawsuit against Webb Ranch dismissed? That is the root cause of the problem. Blaming the county makes a lot less sense.


6 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 18, 2016 at 4:43 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

resident:

it's about "deep pockets."


23 people like this
Posted by Martin
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Aug 19, 2016 at 12:31 pm

Why is there a lawsuit against anyone? Surely if a driver is paying even the slightest bit of attention they would see a dead horse in the road and be able to avoid it or stop before hitting it.

All kinds of things end up in our roadways, and it is the responsibility of each driver to focus on the road and drive within their capabilities.


9 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 19, 2016 at 12:32 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Martin:

there you go demanding personal responsibility from people. How dare you?


8 people like this
Posted by Scott
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 19, 2016 at 12:37 pm

@Martin, the accident occurred very early in the morning in December, when the days are at their shortest. In darkness I imagine that it would be very difficult to see a dead horse lying on the ground until one is too close at highway speed to swerve or stop. Also, that's not the sort of object one expects to find on the freeway! I suspect that's why the driver didn't avoid the collision.


10 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 19, 2016 at 12:40 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Scott:

if she had hit a dead deer on the road who would she sue?


19 people like this
Posted by horsey-sense
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 19, 2016 at 1:08 pm

"In darkness I imagine that it would be very difficult to see a dead horse lying on the ground until one is too close at highway speed to swerve or stop." If you can't see, then you slow down to a safe speed. By law. Besides that, there was...

A CHP pulled over, lights blazing, all colors. Flares on the ground. All evidence offered in trial, and not disputed by her ambulance chaser.

What is California's safe speed law say about that? "This law means that you may never drive faster than is safe for current conditions."

She clearly decided none of that applied to her. Hey, she's a doctor, after all. We all know that doctors are above all that plebeian 'common-sense' stuff.

So she sped through and went airborne. AIRBORNE.

"... she asserts that a deputy from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office directed her into a lane in which a horse was lying."

On 280, at night, lights blazing, flares, an officer with a flashlight, and you keep going 65mph? 65mph - too fast to see safely, hit 1200 lbs of horse, and go airborne.

"I suspect that's why the driver didn't avoid the collision."

New opinion?


5 people like this
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 19, 2016 at 1:37 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

I guess her deep pocket is still deep so she and her ambulance chasing atty. want to try for round 2. Ok, have fun. [Portion removed]


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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