From the Los Angeles Times

Jury awards $17.7 million to biker in crash

The motorcyclist was hit by a Taiwanese shipping firm's car driven by the wife of its U.S. president.

From the Associated Press

April 25, 2007

A jury ordered a Taiwanese shipping firm to pay $17.7 million to a motorcyclist severely injured when the wife of the company's U.S. president struck the bike with a company car.

Wen-Ting Tai, who was driving a Wan Hai Lines Ltd. company car, turned into the motorcycle's path Oct. 23, 2004, four days after she flunked the California driving test.

A Los Angeles County Superior Court jury deliberated two days before deciding Thursday on the $18.6-million award. The panel said the motorcyclist, Joyson Mallabo, was 5% at fault.

"Any time a plaintiff is on a motorcycle, the jury will find them somewhat at fault, just because they're on a motorcycle," Mallabo's lawyer, David M. Ring, said.

Mallabo, who was 23 at the time of the crash, was riding his motorcycle in Cerritos when Tai turned left in front of him at an uncontrolled intersection. He suffered massive injuries and must use a cane to walk.

Wan Hai Lines attorney Douglas D. Cullins was out of the office in trial this week, a receptionist said, and a voicemail message left Tuesday wasn't immediately returned.

The jury decided Wan Hai Lines must pay Mallabo $3.6 million for medical bills and lost wages and $15 million for pain and suffering.

When Tai's husband, Ching Tarng Lin, was transferred from Taiwan to the company's Long Beach office, she moved with him.

State law allows drivers to use foreign licenses as long as they aren't California residents.

Tai tried to obtain a California license four days before the accident but failed the road test. Failure means a driver made at least 16 mistakes during the test, Ring said.

"If you can't pass the test, you shouldn't be driving here," Ring said.