United States District Court, C.D. California, Western Division
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION
J. WISTRICH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
court has considered the testimony and exhibits admitted into
evidence during the non-jury trial, the parties' proposed
findings of fact and conclusions of law, and the closing
arguments of counsel. With that as its basis, the court makes
the following ruling.
Plaintiff Robert Cardenas was born on April 26, 1951
[Reporter's Transcript of Proceedings (“RT”)
1972-1982, plaintiff worked for his sister at her Burnt
Tortilla restaurant. [RT 376:8-377:8]
1992, plaintiff started working as a letter carrier for the
United States Postal Service (“USPS”) at the
Redondo Beach Post Office. [RT 580:23-581:13]
Since 2011, Plaintiff has been on extended medical leave from
work after injuring his shoulder and wrist while delivering
mail. [RT 580:23-581:13; Pl. Depo. 47:4, 7-9
collision between plaintiff's vehicle and Susan
Slaughter's vehicle occurred on July 2, 2012, at
approximately 5:00 p.m. [Dkt. No. 54, Admitted Facts
Plaintiff was traveling westbound on West Redondo Beach
Boulevard near the United States Post Office located at 1455
West Redondo Beach Boulevard, Gardena, CA 90247 (the
“Gardena Post Office”). [AF 5(a), 5(d); RT
Plaintiff was driving a 1993 Honda Accord. [AF 5(b); RT
Slaughter has been a USPS employee since 1990. [RT
the time of the collision, Ms. Slaughter was a letter carrier
working at the Gardena Post Office. [RT 465:5-7, 465:11-16]
Slaughter was acting within the course and scope of her
employment at the time of the collision. [AF 5(f)]
Slaughter was familiar with the Gardena Post Office location
and its vicinity. She had worked as a letter carrier at the
Gardena Post Office and had resided in a nearby neighborhood
for about twenty years. [RT 468:1-16]
July 2, 2012, Ms. Slaughter was driving a Grumman Long Life
Vehicle (LLV) (the “postal truck”), a standard
postal truck used by letter carriers to deliver USPS mail.
[AF 5(c); RT 466:5-14] The driver of an LLV sits on the right
side. [RT 577:15-17]
Gardena Post Office is on the north side of West Redondo
Beach Boulevard, between cross-streets Nuano Drive (to the
west) and Normandie Avenue (to the east). [Trial Exhibit
(“Ex.”) 106-2; RT 467:7-18]
employees' driveway is east of the driveway leading to
the public parking lot of the Gardena Post Office. [Ex.
Plaintiff intended to make a right turn into the public
parking lot for the Gardena Post Office, not the
employee's parking lot for the post office. [RT 585:8-20]
collision between plaintiff's vehicle and Ms.
Slaughter's vehicle occurred in the driveway leading to
the employees' parking lot of the Gardena Post Office.
[RT 466:18-467:3, 478:22-479:2; Ex. 104-1, 104-3]
section of West Redondo Beach Boulevard near the Gardena Post
Office is lined with strip malls and businesses. [RT
strip mall immediately east of the Gardena Post Office
(“the strip mall”) includes the Burnt Tortilla
restaurant. [Ex. 104-1, 104-4]
driveway allowing traffic to enter and exit the strip mall
from West Redondo Beach Boulevard is located approximately 90
feet east of the Gardena Post Office employees' driveway
and approximately 140 feet east of the public driveway. [Ex.
104-4; RT 23:15-17, 95:12-17]
portion of West Redondo Beach Boulevard in front of the
Gardena Post Office is heavily traveled and the traffic is
often slow moving. [Ex. 104-9; RT 33:5-9, 34:7-18, 268:12-18,
318:23-319:9, 639:23-640:7; Pl. Depo. 168:10-12]
westbound traffic on West Redondo Beach Boulevard crosses
Normandie Avenue, the three marked westbound lanes narrow to
only two lanes. [Ex. 106]
graphical lane-ending signs indicate to drivers on westbound
West Redondo Beach Boulevard both east and west of Normandie
Avenue that the third lane ends. [Ex. 106-2]
Westbound West Redondo Beach Boulevard contains three painted
pavement arrows just west of the Normandie Avenue
intersection indicating that the third lane ends. [Exs.
104-8, 106-2, 109-39]
front of the Gardena Post Office, a designated left-turn
pocket lane on eastbound West Redondo Beach Boulevard enables
traffic to turn left into the public and employee driveways.
front of the Gardena Post Office, there are two marked lanes
of westbound traffic on West Redondo Beach Boulevard. [RT
39:25-40:11] Those lanes are paved in dark asphalt and are
divided by a single lane of raised ceramic lane dividers.
[Ex. 104-1; RT 39:25-40:11]
Between the strip mall and the entrance to the public parking
lot of the Gardena Post Office, there are only two marked
lanes of westbound traffic on West Redondo Beach Boulevard.
[RT 40:3-41:5; Declaration of Eric Deyerl (“Deyerl
Decl.”) ¶¶ 89-94]
the entire path of travel taken by plaintiff's vehicle
(approximately 70-80 feet) along West Redondo Beach
Boulevard, there are only two marked lanes of westbound
traffic. [Deyerl Decl. ¶¶ 76, 93]
third lane or “merger lane” existed. [Deyerl
Decl. ¶¶ 89-94; Ex. 106-2]
There are no marked lane dividers for the purported
“merger lane.” [RT 92:15-23]
any event, plaintiff did not use the paved shoulder as a
merge lane to enter the two marked lanes; instead, plaintiff
used it to pass stopped traffic on the right.
Prior to the collision, Ms. Slaughter was traveling eastbound
on West Redondo Beach Boulevard in order to return to the
Gardena Post Office after completing her work shift. [RT
Slaughter turned on her left-turn signal and entered the
designated left-turn pocket lane on eastbound West Redondo
Beach Boulevard in front of the Gardena Post Office. ...