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California: Guard Hit by Contractor Awarded $405,242 for Knee Injury

On December 22, 2000, a California superior court awarded a prison guard
$405,242 for a knee injury he sustained when he was hit by a prison
contractor's vehicle.

On February 4, 1999, plaintiff Steven Churchill was working as a check
point guard at the entrance to Avenal State Prison. As a REBCO Utility
Supply vehicle pulled into the entrance, Churchill was struck by the
flatbed trailer's wheel well, which protruded 25 inches.

The medial meniscus of Churchill's right knee was torn, and his left knee
was bruised and swollen. Churchill underwent two arthroscopic surgeries on
his right knee; a third arthroscopy would be required in the future to
remove scar tissue buildup. Churchill continued to suffer from minor pain,
stiffness, and internal scarring. The injury prevented Churchill from
continuing to work as a prison guard.

At trial Churchill contended that when the wheel well struck his right knee
it caused him to spin. The meniscus was torn, he claimed, as weight shifted
onto his knee with torsion. Expert testimony confirmed the mechanics of
Churchill's explanation. Don Schengel, M.D., testified that the injury
permanently prevented Churchill from working as a prison guard.
Defendants argued that Churchill's injury was inconsistent with his
depiction of the accident.

Churchill was awarded a total of $405,442 ($335,242. economic, $50,000 non
economic). The approximate breakdown of the economic damages was $12,650
for medical bills, $100,000 for lost wages, and 222,350 for future lost wages.

Churchill provided expert testimony from the following: Alan Nahum, M.D. of
San Diego (biomechanics); Don Schengel, M.D. of Visalia (orthopedics); and
Jim Flynn of Fresno (surgery procedures).

Churchill was represented by Daniel R. Baradat of the Fresno, California
law firm Baradat Edwards. See: Churchill v. REBCO Utility Supply Inc.,
Superior Court of Kings County, Case No. 00 C 0064.

Source: VerdictSearch California Reporter

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Related legal case

Churchill v. REBCO Utility Supply Inc.

no case text.