Motorcycle struck by pickup; course and scope of employment at issue; $11.9 million. Contra Costa County.


Motorcyclist, 35, is struck by defendant company's pickup, but defendant says driver was retired and not in course and scope of employment.  Catastrophic head and spine injuries.  $11.9 million verdict.

The Case

  • Case Name: Sean Choy v Mori Hatsushi and Associates Inc., Masaru Hatsushi, Mori Hatsushi and Tomiko Hatsushi and M. Hatsushi Landscaping
  • Court and Case Number: Contra Costa Superior Court/ CIVMSC07-02532
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Monday, December 10, 2012
  • Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, November 28, 2007
  • Type of Case: Negligence, Vehicles - Motorcycle
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Steven Austin
  • Plaintiffs:
    Sean Choy
  • Defendants:
    Mori Hatsushi and Associates Inc.
    M. Hatsushi Landscaping
    Masaru Hatsushi
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $11,900,672
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    Award was against all defendants jointly.

  • Economic Damages:


  • Non-Economic Damages:


  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 15 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 6 days
  • Jury Polls: 10-1- (1 abstained) on Negligence and Substantial Factor; 12-0 on Employment.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:
    Kirby, Kirby and Kirby by Steven C. Kirby and Aimee E. Kirby, Redondo Beach
  • Attorney for the Defendant:
    Hughes & Company by Ralph Hughes, Pleasanton (for Mori and Tomiko Hatsushi)

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Experts:
    Jeremo Barakos, M.D., neuroradiology, San Francisco
    Brian Mcguiness, M.D., trauma surgery, Walnut Creek
    Ramin A. Behmand, M.D., plastic surgery, Walnut Creek
    Ralph Kiernan, Ph.D., neuropsychology, Redwood City
  • Defendant's Medical Experts:
  • Plaintiff's Technical Experts:
    Larry Neuman, accident reconstruction, Loomis
    Patrick Mason, economics
  • Defendant's Technical Experts:
    Mike Olivera, accident reconstruction, Danville

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Sean Choy, 35, was riding his motorcycle to his construction job on Nov, 7, 2007, when he was broadsided on Pacheco Boulevard at South Buchanan Circle in Pacheco by a Mori Hatsushi & Associates pickup truck driven by employee Masaru Hatsushi.

    Hatsushi, who died before the trial started, was the 72-year-old uncle of the firm's owners, Mori and Tomiko Hatsushi.


  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That Masaru Hatsushi was in the course and scope of his employment with Mori Hatsushi and Associates on day of the accident and was carrying corporate-owned equipment to a job site, Kaiser Hospital in Walnut Creek, at the direction of Mori Hatsushi, the President of Mori Hatsushi and Associates Inc.

    That Masaru Hatsushi was an employee of the company who had been removed from its insurance policy because of his poor driving record. 

    That there was no documentation to support the claim that he had retired the week before the accident.


  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That Masaru Hatsushi was not working for Mori Hatsushi and Associates and that as corporate officers they were not personally liable for negligent retention and ratification.

    That the landscaping firm was not liable for Choy's injuries because Masaru Hatsushi had retired from the company a week before the accident and was in the process of returning equipment when he struck Choy.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Plaintiff was in a coma for six weeks after the collision. He suffered brain damage, facial and spinal fractures and a punctured lung. He lost his spleen and his left arm was paralyzed.

    Complete loss of use of left arm, brain damage, loss of spleen, fractures of spine and right arm, massive fractures of facial bones.

    Inability to work and play like a normal human being. Anger issues related to brain damages, emotional distress from injuries.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $463,671
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $1,000,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $145,117
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $604,558