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Lourdes Castaneda Sanchez and Jose Luis Sanchez v. United States of America

March 23, 2011

LOURDES CASTANEDA SANCHEZ AND JOSE LUIS SANCHEZ, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: R. Gary Klausner U.S. District Judge

I. INTRODUCTION

Order and Judgment RE: Court Trial Lourdes Sanchez ("Sanchez") and her brother Jose Sanchez ("Jose") filed suit on November 18, 2009, against Christina Gomez ("Officer Gomez"), who was later substituted with the United States ("Defendant"). Plaintiff alleges a cause of action for negligence against Defendant, and Jose alleges a cause of action for negligent infliction of emotional distress ("NIED") against Defendant.

Trial of this case commenced on February 2, 2011. The present opinion explains the Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law.

II. FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

This opinion serves as the findings of fact and conclusions of law required by Rule 52 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Any finding of fact that constitutes a conclusion of law is adopted as such, and the converse is true as well.

A. Findings of Fact

1. In the early morning of February 16, 2008, Jose parked across the street from Verdugo Hills Convalescent Hospital in Glendale and dropped off Sanchez.

2. Sanchez proceeded to step off the curb, walk a couple of steps, and began running across the street in the marked crosswalk toward the Verdugo Hills Convalescent Hospital.

3. Officer Gomez, while acting in the scope and employment of the United States as an FBI agent, struck Sanchez while she was halfway through the crosswalk.

4. Jose, who was parked next to the crosswalk at the time of impact:

a. Saw Officer Gomez's headlights approaching Sanchez;

b. Was not worried for Sanchez's safety when he saw Officer Gomez's vehicle;

c. Did not see the actual collision, but heard it and knew that Sanchez had been hit; and

d. Stepped out his vehicle after hearing the collision and saw Sanchez lying on the ground, trembling, and bleeding from the head.

5. Officer Gomez, immediately before she struck Sanchez:

a. Had trouble seeing because the street and its surroundings were poorly lit;

b. Failed to see Sanchez until she was about a car's length from the sidewalk;

c. Saw that Sanchez was wearing dark colored clothing;

d. Was driving with her headlights on; and

e. Was traveling approximately 35 miles per hour.

6. There were two pedestrian crossing warning signs -- one traffic sign warning of the approaching crosswalk and the other traffic sign identifying the crosswalk.

7. Since the collision:

a. Sanchez had undergone multiple surgeries and physical therapy, and suffered, among other things: traumatic brain injury, physical and mental deficiencies, and seizures;

b. Maria Salazar ("Salazar") cared for Sanchez as a Certified Nursing Attendant ("CNA") and has been paid over $250,000 by Sanchez's Counsel ("Sanchez Counsel");

c. Sanchez has acted visibly frustrated when she could not perform simple tasks like tying her ...


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