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.
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.