Bermudez v. CiolekAnnotate this Case
In January 2012, two vehicles collided at an intersection in Fountain Valley. The accident occurred sometime during the traffic light transitioned from green to yellow to red in the east-west lanes of Talbert Avenue. Westbound defendant Faith Ciolek began a left turn onto Bushard Street. Eastbound defendant Nathan Heacox entered the intersection, intending to proceed straight through. Following the collision, Heacox’s car veered to the southeast corner of the intersection, striking plaintiff Omar Bermudez, who was on the sidewalk astride his bicycle. At the time of the collision, Bermudez apparently had no medical insurance. In a special verdict, the jury found both defendants were “negligent” but concluded only Ciolek was “a substantial factor in causing harm” to Bermudez. Ciolek was therefore found to be responsible for 100 percent of Bermudez’s $3.7 million in damages. Ciolek appealed, arguing: (1) the verdict is inconsistent; (2) alternatively, she was entitled to a new trial on damages because there is insufficient evidence of the reasonable value of Bermudez’s medical damages in the trial court record. Upon review, the Court of Appeal concluded: (1) the jury was entitled to conclude that Heacox slightly exceeded a reasonable speed when he entered the intersection but that his speed was not a substantial factor in causing Bermudez’s injuries; and (2) Ciolek was not entitled to a new trial, but because $46,175.41 of the judgment was not supported by substantial evidence, the Court reduced the damage award to $3,706,793.60.