Motorcyclist dies in freeway accident with inattentive driver

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Case in Point

May 24, 2011

Motorcyclist dies in freeway accident with inattentive driver 

The man’s survivors alleged that the driver failed to keep a proper lookout while driving home from work on a busy four-lane freeway and that his employer was vicariously liable for his negligent driving. The parties settled before trial for about $1.02 million. Madonia v. Murrieta.

James Madonia, 62, was riding his motorcycle on a busy four-lane freeway. Ahead of him was Arthur Murrieta, who allegedly was returning home from work. Murrieta braked suddenly and swerved left to avoid hitting another vehicle. Madonia moved to the right to avoid an accident, collided with another motorist, and fell to the ground. Murrieta then lost control of his vehicle and hit the center divider. His car bounced off the divider and rolled over Madonia, killing him.

Madonia was retired and is survived by his wife and adult daughter.

They sued Murrieta—and his employer, Horizon Communications Technologies, under a vicarious liability theory—alleging that Murrieta had failed to keep a proper lookout. The defense countered that Murrieta had not acted negligently because he swerved to avoid a collision. Horizon Communications argued that Murrieta was not within the scope of his employment.

The parties settled before trial for about $1.02 million. Horizon Communications paid $1 million, and Murrieta paid the rest.

Citation: Madonia v. Murrieta, No. 30-2010-00337626-CU-PO-CJC (Cal., Orange Co. Super. Feb. 15, 2011).

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ member Darren O. Aitken, Santa Ana, California.


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