Palumbo Wolfe & Palumbo, PC is glad to announce that its seven year representation of a catastrophic injury victim has ended well.
The case arose from a traffic collision that occurred on May 17, 2003. The plaintiff was riding his motorcycle south on Seventh Street in Phoenix, Arizona. The plaintiff’s motorcycle collided with a Chevrolet Tahoe being driven by a 16 year-old who had just finished a training session at North Mountain Park with her Under-17 Mesa Soccer Club team, coached by a Soccer Club employee, for whom the Mesa Soccer Club, Inc. was legally responsible. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant driver was an agent, servant and/or employee of Mesa Soccer Club, Inc., who was acting on behalf of the Mesa Soccer Club, Inc. at the time of the crash.
On May 17, 2003, the defendant Coach directed his Under 17 girls’ soccer team to meet at a restaurant at Rural Road and University Road, in Tempe, Arizona, to travel together to North Phoenix for a physical training session at North Mountain Park, located near Peoria Road and North Seventh Street, in Phoenix, Arizona. This was the first time that the team had ever been to North Mountain Park to train. The defendant driver was a newly licensed driver, having received her driver’s license on her birthday four months earlier. Although the defendant driver drove herself to the restaurant meeting point, she had no intent of driving herself, let alone four of her teammates, to the training session in Phoenix. In fact, prior to leaving her house, the defendant driver’s mother instructed her not to drive from the meeting point to the training session because North Mountain Park was too far away.
Upon arriving at the meeting point, the defendant coach asked the defendant driver to drive other members of the Mesa Soccer Club to the training session because she had a large vehicle (Chevrolet Tahoe) that he had termed “the beast.”Prior to that day, the defendant driver had never before driven an automobile by herself into the Phoenix area. She did not know where North Mountain Park was located.
The Soccer Club’s policy required at least two adults to be present during all scheduled training and practice sessions. Despite this policy, Defendant Muth was the only adult to attend the training session on May 17, 2003. The defendant coach did not give the defendant driver any type of directions besides telling her “Follow me.” Accordingly, the defendant driver followed the defendant coach from Tempe to North Mountain Park. Upon arrival, the team trained by running and sprinting up and down the trails at North Mountain Park. Pursuant to Soccer Club Guidelines, all of the girls were wearing Soccer Club training gear, which consisted of a white Mesa Soccer Club T-shirt, blue Adidas shorts and running shoes. When the team finished its training session, and upon preparing to leave the park and return to the meeting point in Tempe, the defendant coach again directed the defendant driver to follow him. Team members then got into various vehicles, including vehicles driven by the defendant coach and the defendant driver.
In exiting the North Mountain Park parking lot, the plaintiff, through accident reconstructionist, alleged that the defendant coach negligently made an illegal turn into a restricted median dividing northbound and southbound traffic on 7th Street. Pursuant to her coach’s instructions, the defendant driver followed Defendant Muth. Defendant Fuzy made an illegal left-hand turn from the North Mountain Park parking lot across southbound traffic on Seventh Street, pulling in front of the plaintiff, who was in the left of the two southbound lanes on Seventh Street, causing his motorcycle to crash into the rear left side of the defendant driver’s Tahoe. The plaintiff called an eye witness who testified that the defendant driver suddenly and unexpectedly exited the parking lot, leaving the plaintiff with no time to avoid the crash.
In the collision, the plaintiff was seriously injured. The most serious of his injuries included a severe, permanent bilateral diffuse axonal shear traumatic brain injury. He suffers from spastic hemiplegia and severe cognitive and behavioral problems. Since the crash, the plaintiff was diagnosed with: 1) Closed head injury with cerebral shear injury and subarachnoid hemorrhage; 2) Multiple facial fractures including a right tripod fracture and LeFort fracture; 3) Basilar skull fracture and fracture involving the middle cranial fossa; 4) Bilateral mandibular fractures; 5) Multiple facial lacerations; 6) C6 spinous process fracture; 7) Bibasilar atelectasis; 8) Right mandibular angle fracture; 9) Right zygomatic arch fracture; 10) Severe traumatic brain injury. These injuries necessitated numerous surgeries. The plainitff was declared incompetent to handle his own affairs as a result of his injuries. The plaintiff’s fiance was appointed by the court as the guardian and conservator.
The case went to trial in June of 2007. After 7 days of trial, the jury found in the plaintiff’s favor in the amount of $7,000,000. The jury apportioned fault as follows: Defendant Driver – 82%; Plaintiff- 16%; Defendant Coach- 1%; Defendant Mesa Soccer Club, Inc. – 1% for its independent fault. Thus, the amount of the combined verdict for which the defendant Mesa Soccer Club, Inc. is liable is $5,880,000.00 (84% of the $7,000,000.00). The Soccer Club’s insurer unsuccessfully appealed the verdict. The case came to a conclusion in September 2010 when the Arizona Supreme Court denied to accept review of the case.
The case was handled by Palumbo Wolfe & Palumbo, PC founding partners Scott Palumbo and Elliot Wolfe.