Caltrans alleged to be liable when vehicles collide making right turns. $16M. Sonoma County.


Driver using shoulder to make his right turn collides with driver using the through lane of traffic to make his right turn.

The Case

  • Case Name: Lindquist v. State of California and Brendan Toohey
  • Court and Case Number: Sonoma County Superior Court / SCV-267421
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Monday, August 21, 2023
  • Date Action was Filed: Tuesday, April 13, 2021
  • Type of Case: Dangerous Condition Public Property, Vehicles - Right Turn
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Patrick Broderick
  • Plaintiffs:
    Scott Lindquist and Alania Lindquist
  • Defendants:
    State of California
    Brandan Toohey
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $16,347,362
  • Net Verdict or Award: $9,808,417
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    State of California: $16,347,362

    Brendan Toohey: $0

  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: 40% to plaintiff Scott Lindquist
  • Economic Damages:


  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Scott: $7,650,001

    Alania: $1,211,250

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 6 weeks
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 2 days
  • Jury Polls: 10-2

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Walkup Melodia Kelly & Schoenberger by Richard Shoenberger, Douglas Saeltzer and Joseph Nicholson, San Francisco. 

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    State of California/Caltrans by Skitch Crosby and Ian Madrosen, Oakland.

    Sandhu Law Group by David Perrine and Justin McManus, Sacramento. (For Brendan Toohey.)

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Alex Barchuk, M.D., physiatry.

    Karen Aznavoorian, life care planning.

    James Wilson, Ph.D., neuropsychology.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):


  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Anthony Andre, Ph.D., human factors.

    Laurence Neuman, traffic engineering.

    Mark Shattuck, Ph.D., accident reconstruction and biomechanics.

    James Mills, forensic economics.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

     William H. Woodruff, Ph.D., accident reconstruction.

    Michael D. Hutchison, civil engineering.

    Reza Marshall, traffic engineering.

    Edward C. Fatzinger, accident reconstruction.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff, a 65-year-old construction contractor, was making a right turn from eastbound SR-12 onto Arnold Drive in Glen Ellen on his motorcycle when he was struck by an SUV driven by defendant Brendan Toohey, who was also turning right onto the single lane of southbound Arnold Drive.

    Mr. Lindquist passed stopped vehicles on the right, using the shoulder to make his turn, while Mr. Toohey made his right turn from the through lane of traffic.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiffs contended that the roadway was in a dangerous condition because Caltrans failed to implement a 2012 striping modification plan and did not give clear guidance where motorists on SR-12 should make their right turn onto Arnold Drive.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Caltrans contended that both motorists violated the vehicle code: plaintiff for driving on the shoulder, and defendant Toohey for failing to make his turn from as far to the right as practicable. Further, that its roadway did not contribute to the collision.

    Caltrans also contended it was entitled to design immunity.

    Defendant Toohey contended he did not violate the vehicle code, but that plaintiff did.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    In addition to several serious orthopedic injuries, as a result of the collision, Mr. Lindquist sustained a severe traumatic brain injury to the frontal lobe with permanent neurocognitive disorders and hemiplegia. Alania Lindquist presented a claim for loss of consortium.