On May 9, 2014, during the evening rush hour, plaintiff was driving westbound in the left lane of Leesburg Pike at the intersection with Idylwood Road in the Falls Church area of Fairfax County. Plaintiff was proceeding through the intersection on a green light when defendant, traveling in the right lane, cut in front of him and immediately slammed on his brakes causing plaintiff to strike the rear of defendant’s vehicle. Plaintiff testified he honked, braked and swerved to avoid the encroaching vehicle but could not avoid colliding with the rear of defendant’s vehicle when he slammed on his brakes for no reason. Defendant admitted that he changed lanes in front of the plaintiff, but contended that he did so after signaling for several seconds and with sufficient space for him to change lanes. Defendant claimed plaintiff honked and sped up as defendant changed lanes, then rear-ended him when he applied his brakes to avoid “an unidentified, moving object” in the roadway. Plaintiff testified that when he asked defendant why he had slammed on his brakes, defendant responded, “You wouldn’t let me in.”
Defendant was charged with improper lane change to which he later entered a “no contest” plea. Defendant explained he pleaded no contest to the charge as technically correct since the lane change occurred just prior to the intersection where the lanes were separated by solid white lines. Defendant denied that the lane change was a proximate cause of the accident and argued that the lane change and sudden braking action were two separate and distinct events. Plaintiff denied any negligence and argued that defendant’s negligence in cutting him off and slamming on his brakes for no reason was the sole proximate cause of the accident.
Contributory negligence and rear-end presumption instructions were given by the presiding judge.
After approximately two hours of deliberation the jury submitted a question seeking further guidance on how to determine dollar values that would fully and fairly compensate plaintiff for damages sustained for items 1-4 of the damages instruction (VMJI 9.00). Twenty minutes later, after being instructed to reach their verdict based on the evidence and instructions submitted, the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff.
State Farm did not appeal the jury’s verdict.
Type of action: Personal Injury – Auto
Injuries alleged: Plaintiff’s airbag deployed when he rear-ended defendant. The deployment caused the plaintiff to suffer a comminuted fracture of his right wrist that required an open reduction and subsequent physical therapy.
Name of case: Dorsey v. Yoon
Court: Fairfax Circuit Court
Case no.: 2015-06243
Tried before: Jury
Date resolved: June 22, 2016
Special damages: Medical expenses: $36,705.68; Lost wages: $11,786.68
Verdict or settlement: Verdict
Attorney for plaintiff: Katherine M. Fogarty, Fairfax
Attorney for defendant: Alicia Lehnes Summers, Alexandria
Plaintiff’s experts: None
Defendant’s experts: None
Insurance carrier: State Farm