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Seffert v. Los Angeles Transit Lines

Supreme Court of California
364 P.2d 337 (1961)



On October 11, 1957 Seffert (plaintiff) was caught in the door of a bus run by Los Angeles Transit Lines (L.A. Transit) (defendant), and dragged some distance before being thrown to the ground. Before the accident Seffert was 42, healthy, and had been supporting herself for 20 years. As a result of the accident Seffert suffered severe, disabling, and permanent injuries, and will suffer pain for the rest of her life, which was estimated to be 34.9 years from the time of the trial. The trial took place in July and August 1959. After the accident Seffert underwent nine painful operations and was hospitalized for months. Future operations may be necessary. Seffert calculated her pecuniary losses as a total of doctor and hospital bills, drugs and other medical expenses, loss of earning between the time of the accident and the trial, future drug and other medical expenses, and possible future loss of earnings, for a total of $53,903.75. Seffert also claimed $134,000 in nonpecuniary damages including past and future pain and suffering, humiliation from being disfigured and crippled, and anxiety from fear that her leg will need to be amputated. The jury awarded Seffert all of her claimed damages, totaling $187,903.75. The trial court denied L.A. Transit’s motion for a new trial based on its claim that these damages are excessive as a matter of law. L.A. Transit appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Peters, J.)

Dissent (Traynor, J.)

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