Disputed liability in motorcycle accident on highway. $1.2 million. Santa Clara County.


Liability is disputed when auto driver loses control, crosses lanes and strikes motorcycle.  Defendant driver says motorcycle was tailgating.

The Case

  • Case Name: Arnold Petersen v. Mark Alexander Faria
  • Court and Case Number: Santa Clara Superior Court / 114CV261577
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Tuesday, November 17, 2015
  • Date of Settlement: Monday, December 14, 2015
  • Date Action was Filed: Tuesday, March 04, 2014
  • Type of Case: Vehicles - Motorcycle
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Griffin M.J. Bonini
  • Plaintiffs:
    Arnold Petersen, 55, export/import manager
  • Defendants:
    Mark Alexander Faria
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $1,198,577.67
  • Net Verdict or Award: $1,198,577.67
  • Settlement Amount: On December 14, 2015, this case settled for $1.3 million pending post-trial motions.
  • Award as to each Defendant:


  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: None.
  • Economic Damages:


  • Non-Economic Damages:


  • Punitive Damages:


  • Trial or Arbitration Time: Initial trial: 7 days; Partial retrial: 4 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: Initial trial: 3 hours; Partial retrial: 2 hours.
  • Jury Polls: 9-3

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Kirby & Kirby by Steven C. Kirby, Margaret Kirby and James W. Kirby, Redondo Beach.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Santana, Tcheng, Vierra & Symonds by H. Gregory Nelch, San Francisco.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Varqua Rouhipour, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Campbell.

    Jafar Tay, M.D., vascular surgery, San Jose.

    Jerome Barakos, M.D., radiology, San Francisco.

    Edward Littlejohn, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Los Gatos.

    Robert Lucero, M.D.

    Zepure Kouyoumdjian,M.D., neurology, Morgan Hill.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Trigg McClellan, M.D., orthopedic surgery, San Francisco.

    William Hoddick, M.D., radiology, Walnut Creek.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Joseph Yates, B.A., accident reconstruction, Seal Beach.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Eric Rossetter, Ph.D., P.E., accident reconstruction, San Francisco.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff was riding his motorcycle on the 101 Northbound north of Morgan Hill at 9:00 a.m. on a Monday morning during rush hour.  Defendant was directly ahead of plaintiff in a motor vehicle.  Defendant was allegedly distracted by a shiny custom plate on another vehicle and did not see traffic begin to slow down. When he looked up and saw traffic begin to slow, he slammed his brakes and began fishtailing in the number 1 lane.

    Upon seeing this happen in front of him, plaintiff moved to the number 2 lane. Defendant lost control of his vehicle, hit the car in front of him, and then swerved right and hit plaintiff in the number 2 lane before dragging plaintiff and his motorcycle across 2 more lanes of traffic to the dirt shoulder.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiff contended that defendant was inattentive and speeding in the #1 lane of the 101 N/B. That defendant started fishtailing and lost control of his car, prompting plaintiff to move into the #2 lane. That defendant then hit a vehicle in front of him in the #1 lane and this caused defendant to go into the #2 lane out of control where he hit plaintiff on his motorcycle.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant contended that plaintiff was tailgating the defendant and that when defendant lost control, plaintiff was right behind the defendant. As defendant moved into the #2 lane, so did the plaintiff as they were only 26 feet apart and they collided in the #2 lane when defendant lost control.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Dislocation and hip fracture (blow-out of the Acetabular wall) requiring surgery and internal fixation; blood clotting with vascular surgery due to the clotting.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $175,207.02
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $40,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $56,476.85
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $26,893.80

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: $1,100,000
  • Defendant Final Offer before Trial: $935,000

Additional Notes

Retrial was required on issue of Comparative Fault due to a missing instruction on the Jury Verdict Form resulting in the jury providing plaintiff was negligent but not a substantial factor and an apportionment of 70-30. Judge ordered new trial ONLY on plaintiff's comparative fault,  as damages and defendant's negligence were settled.