Pedestrian plays "chicken" with poultry truck, sues after it hits him. Defense verdict. Fresno County.


Man struck by truck as he stands in center of dark, rural roadway.

The Case

  • Case Name: David Crabtree v. Foster Poultry Farms and Manuel Garcia Cruz
  • Court and Case Number: Fresno County Superior Court / 15CECG03948
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, February 20, 2020
  • Date Action was Filed: Thursday, December 31, 2015
  • Type of Case: Vehicles - vs. Pedestrian
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Jeffrey Hamilton
  • Plaintiffs:
    David Crabtree
  • Defendants:
    Foster Poultry Farms
    Manuel Garcia Cruz
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: Defense verdict.
  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 12 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 1/2 hours
  • Jury Polls: 10-2 on whether defendant was negligent.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Girardi & Keese by Chris Aumais and Ashkahn Mohamadi, Los Angeles.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Severson & Werson by Sharon Cohen Collier and Allan Isbell, San Francisco.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Eric Lindvall, M.D., orthopedic surgery.

    John Edwards, M.D., physical medicine/rehabilitation.

    Karen Aznavoorian, life care planning.

    Andrew Morris, billing and life expectancy.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):


  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Felix Lee, accident reconstruction.

    Sam Dulin, commercial driving.

    Gavin Huntley-Fenner, human factors.

    Naresh Jain, toxicology.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Steve Fenton, accident reconstruction.

    Dan Girvan, biomechanis.

    Wes Curtis, commercial driving.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff left a party after drinking alcohol, smoking methamphetamine, and marijuana, and decided to walk 23 miles to his home. Later that evening, after walking 13 miles, he stood in the middle of a dark, rural road in Fresno County with his arms extended at shoulder height. As he stood in the middle of the road, he was struck by defendant's tractor trailer truck, causing him significant injuries.


  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiff admitted that he was negligent and that his negligence was a substantial factor in causing his harm, but also contended that defendant was partially at fault. Specifically, plaintiff argued that defendant driver was negligent for failing to use his high beams so that he would have seen plaintiff in the roadway sooner, and for overdriving his headlights. If defendant had been using his high beams or driving slower, plaintiff argued that defendant driver would have been able to avoid striking plainitiff.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant denied liability. That plaintiff was obstructing the roadway and took no evasive action as the tractor trailer approached.  That defendant driver saw the obstacle in the roadway and took evasive action, but was unable to avoid striking plaintiff.

    Defendant argued that he was not required to use his high beams and was not overdriving his headlights. Defendants contended that plaintiff was exclusively at fault because he was obstructing others' free use of the roadway and was either hallucinating from intoxication or was intentionally trying to commit suicide.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Brain injury, significant fractures to the left arm and right leg, including the need for a future leg amputation.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: The parties stipulated to approximately $245,000 in past medical expenses.
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: Plaintiff claimed approximately $900,000 in future medical expenses.
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: N/A
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: N/A

Additional Notes

Plaintiff also claimed $2 million in past non-economic damages and $4-6 million in future non-economic damages.