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Kendrick v. Manda

January 11, 2008

CLARISSA M. KENDRICK, APPELLEE,
v.
RAVI K. MANDA, APPELLANT.



Appeal from Johnson District Court; KEVIN P. MORIARTY, judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. A bicycle is not defined as a vehicle for purposes of the Rules of the Road in Kansas. Likewise, a bicyclist is not defined as a pedestrian for purposes of the Rules of the Road in Kansas. Nevertheless, if a bicyclist operates a bicycle on a roadway, the bicyclist has the same rights and duties applicable to drivers of vehicles. Moreover, if a bicyclist uses a sidewalk, the bicyclist has the same rights as a pedestrian and is not subject to vehicular traffic laws.

2. A crosswalk is defined in Kansas as part of the roadway distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing. When a bicyclist uses a pedestrian crosswalk to cross a roadway, the bicyclist has the same rights and duties as a pedestrian using the crosswalk.

3. The trial court has the duty to properly instruct the jury on a party's theory of the case when there is evidence to support it.

4. In considering the sufficiency of evidence of damages to support a jury award, the appellate court reviews the evidence in the light most favoring the prevailing party.

5. Damages need not be established with absolute certainty, and the jury can estimate damages using a reasonable basis for computation and the best evidence available under the circumstances. However, claims for damages which are conjectural and speculative cannot form a sound basis for an award.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: McANANY, J.

Reversed and remanded with directions.

Before GREENE, P.J., McANANY, J., and LARSON, S.J.

Ravi Manda appeals an adverse judgment in a personal injury action. The jury found that Clarissa Kendrick sustained damages of $70,990.40 for which Manda was 70% at fault. Manda challenges the court's instructions to the jury, the sufficiency of the evidence to support a finding of negligence, and Kendrick's claimed future medical expenses.

The automobile-bicycle collision which prompted this suit occurred at the T intersection where 139th Street meets Mur-Len Road in Olathe. 139th Street approaches from the east and meets Mur-Len, which runs north and south. At this intersection Mur-Len consists of five lanes of traffic: two northbound lanes, two southbound lanes, and a southbound left-turn lane. The intersection is controlled by traffic lights as well as pedestrian signals. There is a sidewalk on the west side of Mur-Len. From the north side of 139th Street a pedestrian crosswalk extends across the five traffic lanes of Mur-Len to the sidewalk on the far side.

There are two sets of signals at the intersection: one is the traditional traffic lights for vehicular traffic, the other is a separate set of signals for pedestrian traffic. Vehicular traffic on Mur-Len has the green light for a period of at least 25 seconds. If the traffic signal system senses westbound vehicular traffic on 139th Street, the light for traffic on Mur-Len will turn red for at least 8 seconds to permit 139th Street vehicular traffic to turn either north or south onto Mur-Len.

The pedestrian signals consist of an "orange hand" symbol and a "walking man" symbol located on poles facing the crosswalk at each end. When the "orange hand" is illuminated, it is not safe to cross Mur-Len. When the "walking man" is illuminated, it is safe to do so. Below these illuminated symbols is a button which activates the pedestrian signals. When the signal button has not been pressed, the "orange hand" light is illuminated for pedestrians intending to cross Mur-Len, regardless of the color of the light for westbound vehicular traffic on 139th Street. Pressing the pedestrian signal button activates the green light cycle for traffic on 139th Street and increases the duration of the red light for vehicular traffic on Mur-Len from 8 seconds to at least 20 seconds. The "walking man" symbol is then illuminated, indicating it is safe for pedestrians to cross Mur-Len.

On the evening of May 20, 2004, Kendrick was on her way to work. She rode her bicycle close to the curb in the westbound lane of 139th Street. When she reached the T intersection she stopped for the red light. She intended to cross Mur-Len to reach the sidewalk on the west side of the street and then proceed northbound on the sidewalk. Rather than pushing the button for the pedestrian signal, she waited for the light to turn green and then proceeded across Mur-Len, riding her bicycle in the crosswalk.

The signal for 139th Street traffic turned yellow when Kendrick was less than halfway across the intersection. Manda, who had been traveling southbound in the outside lane of Mur-Len, was either stopped at the light or coming to a stop. His view to the east, the direction Kendrick was coming from, was partially blocked by a large white Yukon Denali SUV stopped at the light in the inside, southbound through-traffic lane. When the light turned green for southbound traffic, Manda began to proceed into the intersection. As he did so, Kendrick came from in front of the Denali and into his lane of travel where she was struck by Manda's automobile. Kendrick was in the pedestrian crosswalk when she was struck.

Jury Instructions

The trial court gave the jury the standard PIK instructions relating to Manda's duty to keep a proper lookout and to exercise proper control over his vehicle in order to avoid colliding with another vehicle using the roadway. In addition, the trial court gave the jury two instructions relating to the duties of bicyclists. Instruction No. 13:

"The laws of Kansas provide that every person riding upon a roadway shall be subject to the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle, except those provisions ...


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