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Asanuma v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. California

March 28, 2014

TAK ASANUMA, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; and ANNETTE VAIPULU; and DOES 1-100 Defendants.

FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

ANTHONY J. BATTAGLIA, District Judge.

I.

The Action

This is a negligence action under the Federal Tort Claims Act for the personal injuries suffered by Plaintiff Tak Asanuma on May 5, 2010. Plaintiff Tak Asanuma suffered injuries after he was involved in a collision while riding a bicycle. The pleadings which raise the issues are (1) Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (ECF No. 7), and (2) Defendant's Answer (ECF No. 8).

II.

Jurisdiction and Venue

Federal jurisdiction is invoked under 28 U.S.C. §1346(b)(1). Venue is proper because all conduct giving rise to the claims alleged in the complaint occurred in San Diego County.

III.

The Proceedings

Prior to trial, the Court excluded the proffered testimony of Dr. Lobatz on the issue of Plaintiff's comparative negligence due to his failure to wear a bicycle helmet at the time of the accident. The Court ruled, as better reflected in the transcript of the proceedings, that the testimony was excludable under Rule 702 and Daubert requirements. The testimony would have been unsupported by any accident reconstruction or details about the angles of impact, the force of impact, and the integrity of plaintiff's helmet, among other things.

The case proceeded to trial on February 24, 2014 and concluded on March 3, 2014. The issues tried were set out in the Final Pretrial Order in this case. (ECF No. 25). Following the trial, and upon review of the testimony and documentary evidence, the agreed facts, the arguments of counsel, and the relevant legal authorities, the Court now makes the following findings based on the credible evidence and their reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom. These findings were made based upon a preponderance of the credible evidence. Causation was determined using the "substantial factor test" under California Law. See, Mitchell v. Gonzales, 54 Cal.3d 1041 (Cal. 1991); Restatement (Second) of Torts §431. "A substantial factor in causing harm is a factor that a reasonable person would consider to have contributed to the harm." CACI 430.

Any finding of fact which is more appropriately a conclusion of law is to be deemed as such.

IV.

Findings of Fact

The following facts were admitted by the parties and are adopted by the Court as findings of fact.[1]

1. On May 5, 2010 Plaintiff Tak Asanuma was riding his bicycle on the 2100 block of Abbott Street in the City of San Diego, California.
2. Plaintiff was not wearing a bicycle helmet during this time.
3. Annette Vaipulu was a federal employee, as she was employed as a Census Bureau Crew Leader at this time by the United States.
4. Ms. Vaipulu was sitting inside a 1992 Toyota 4Runner that was parked on Abbot Street when she opened the driver's side rear door. Immediately thereafter Plaintiff collided with the open door. Plaintiff hit his head and suffered trauma.
5. Plaintiff was taken to UCSD medical center for treatment for his injuries.
6. Plaintiff had severe spinal stenosis and spondylosis prior to the accident of May 5, 2010.
7. Plaintiff had psychiatric issues which included bipolar disorder from an early age, prior to the May 5, 2010 accident.
8. Plaintiff has had frequent treatment from May 5, 2010 through the present time for injuries to several areas, including to his head, neck and back.
9. Plaintiff underwent surgery on his neck, a laminectomy, to treat his cervical ...

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