A July 2014 auto collision involving an on-duty police officer who rear-ended a car on Friars Road will go to trial on Friday, August 26.
Attorneys for the plaintiff, William Raines, however, say the city is gambling with taxpayer money in an open-and-shut case that could have been settled long ago.
Raines, a San Diego EMT, was driving on the just west of Fashion Valley Mall at the 6900 block of Friars Road when his car was struck from behind after passing through a stoplight by San Diego police sergeant Nick Nguyen's cruiser. The collision propelled Raines's car into the vehicle ahead of him.
Police officers at the scene filed a report. In their report, officers confirmed that Raines had been wearing his seatbelt at the time of the accident. They also noted that Raines had complained that his glasses had broke and he had a stiff neck. No other injuries were reported.
Days later, Raines went to see a doctor about the pain he was experiencing in his neck and lower back. The doctor found that Raines, in fact, tore the labrum inside his left hip. The tear eventually required surgery. In all, Raines accrued over $200,000 in medical bills. In January 2015 he filed a lawsuit against the city to recover his costs.
Since, says Raines's attorney Daniel Gilleon, the city has refused to consider the full-scope of damages and instead offered to settle the case for $50,000. Gilleon says now that the case is heading to trial the city has challenged the police report that stated that Raines was wearing his seat belt.
"This is what we [attorneys] call a 'frivolous defense,'" writes Gilleon. "City attorneys are essentially taking a flyer on the taxpayer's dime with the frivolous allegation [Raines] wasn't wearing his seat belt...even though their own employees [the police officers] documented in the police report that our client was wearing his seat belt."
Gilleon, a longtime critic of city attorney Jan Goldsmith, blames the city attorney for pursuing cases such as these.
"When will this nonsense end? I suppose when the new city attorney gets sworn in, assuming it's a real attorney, not a politician who makes day-to-day decisions on the basis of whether they will make him look like a real attorney."
Trial in the case will start at 9 a.m. before Superior Court judge Judith Hayes.