MARTINEZ -- A Contra Costa County jury has ordered a Pacheco landscape architecture firm and its Danville owners to pay $11.9 million to a Modesto man who was nearly killed in a motorcycle accident in 2007.
Sean Choy, 35, was riding his motorcycle to his construction job on Nov, 7, 2007, when he was broadsided on Pacheco Boulevard at South Buchanan Circle in Pacheco by a Mori Hatsushi & Associates pickup truck driven by employee Masaru Hatsushi.
Hatsushi, who died before the trial started, was the 72-year-old uncle of the firm's owners, Mori and Tomiko Hatsushi, and had been removed from the company's insurance policy five months before the accident because of his poor driving record, said Choy's attorney, Steve Kirby.
Choy was in a coma for six weeks after the collision. He suffered brain damage, facial and spinal fractures and a punctured lung. He lost his spleen and his left arm was paralyzed, Kirby said.
Attorneys for the Hatsushis and their company could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
The defendants argued that the landscaping firm was not liable for Choy's injuries because Masaru Hatsushi had retired from the company a week before the accident and was in the process of returning equipment when he struck Choy, according to Kirby.
"The jury basically found that they lied," Kirby said. "He was on his way to a job at Kaiser (Permanente hospital in Walnut Creek). There was no documentation to support the claim that he had retired the Wednesday before."
The jury deliberated for six days before reaching a verdict Monday on behalf of Choy. The $11.9 million judgment covers past and future medical bills and lost wages; $9 million of it was for Choy's pain and suffering.
"I thought the verdict was in line with the injuries that Sean will live with the rest of this life," Kirby said. "He is going to need care when he is older, and the jury provided for that."
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.