Teen student hit by driver in dangerous crosswalk, city sued. $25.6M. Riverside County.


Senior driver hits student in well-marked crosswalk; location of crosswalk near high school is at issue.

The Case

  • Case Name: Tusant v. City of Hemet, et al.
  • Court and Case Number: Riverside Superior Court / MCC1701026
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, February 06, 2020
  • Date Action was Filed: Tuesday, September 12, 2017
  • Type of Case: Dangerous Condition of Public Roads, Highways, Vehicles - vs. Pedestrian
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Angel M. Bermudez
  • Plaintiffs:
    Nicholas Tusant
  • Defendants:
    City of Hemet
    Giles Gervais (defendant driver and cross complainant versus City of Hemet)
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $25,656,686
  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: 80% to City of Hemet; 20% to Gervais.
  • Economic Damages:

    Past medical expenses: $566,163.58

    Past lost earnings: $0

    Future medical expenses: $12,590,240

    Future lost earnings: $2,788,483

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past  $5,475,000

    Future: $4,236,800

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 23 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 3 days.
  • Jury Polls: 10-2

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Rosen Saba, LLP by Ryan D. Saba and Tyler Vanderpool, Beverly Hills.

    The Law Office of Robert P Karwin by Robert Karwin, Sun City.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Burke Williams & Sorensen, LLP by Algeria Ford, Riverside. (For defendant city.)

    Burke Williams & Sorensen, LLP by Brian Hamblet, Los Angeles. (For defendant city.)

    Ford, Walker, Haggerty & Behar, LLP by Jennifer Russell, Long Beach. (For defendant driver.)

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Lester Zackler, M.D., neuropsychology, Sherman Oaks.

    Edward O'Conner, M.D., neurology.

    Jan Roughan, life care planning.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Jeffrey Bounds, M.D., neurology, Loma Linda.

    Manuel St. Martin, M.D., psychiatry, Los Angeles.

    Rhonda Renteria, life care planning.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Henry Kahrs, economics.

    Matthew Manjarrez, road design/traffic engineering.

    David King, accident reconstruction, Los Angeles.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    David Royer, traffic engineering.

    Ed Ruzak, traffic engineering, Fountain Valley. (Only expert called by defendant Gervais.)

    Eugene Vanderpol, accident reconstruction, Carlsbad.

    David Weiner, economics.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On the morning of March 24, 2017, plaintiff Nicholas Tusant, age 16, was walking to school. He entered a crosswalk that had painted lines and lights embedded in the ground that flashed when a button was pushed. Defendant Gervais, age 71, was driving a pickup truck when he struck the plaintiff while he was in the crosswalk at about 40 miles per hour. It was unknown whether or not plaintiff pressed the button to activate the flashing light.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiff contended that the crosswalk should not have been installed at this particular location because the location was dangerous. Specifically, that the crosswalk should not have been placed in the location which was across the street from the high school. The street should have been barricaded and children should have been redirected to a traffic signal light crossing location and that a new traffic signal should have been installed at the main entrance to the school. The dangerous crosswalk in question was placed in a spot that led to a side gate.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant City contended that the crosswalk was safe and that no pedestrian was hit by a car at any time after the lines were painted and embedded lights were installed.

    Defendant Gervais argued that he made a mistake and was sorry for the mistake, but if the City had done a proper investigation and planning at the location, the accident would not have occurred. Gervais argued it was a case of shared responsibility and the City should be held more responsible due to the dangerous condition and endangering the lives of pedestrians.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Plaintiff suffered traumatic brain injury to the left, rear quadrant of his head which has rendered plaintiff wheelchair-bound.