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Brain-injured firefighter cannot sue city: Appeals court


A San Francisco firefighter seriously injured in an incident with a city bus was not permitted to file a lawsuit because the injuries were exclusive to workers compensation, a California appellate court ruled Tuesday.

Firefighter Matthew Vann sued over catastrophic injuries he suffered in November 2020, when Louis Yu, a bus driver with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, drove through an active emergency scene and over a fire hose.

The hose broke off and tripped Mr. Vann, causing him to fall, lose his helmet, and strike his head, leading to a traumatic brain injury, according to the ruling by the California Court of Appeal.

Mr. Vann received workers comp benefits but also sued the city and Mr. Yu for negligence. He argued workers comp wasn’t his sole remedy, and litigation was permitted, because he and Mr. Yu are not “co-employees” and that the fire department and city are separate legal entities.

He claimed the lawsuit against the city was allowed because it was not his employer.

A judge disagreed, ruling the city’s fire department and transportation agency were part of the same legal entity.

On appeal, Mr. Vann raised the same arguments, but the California Court of Appeal agreed with the lower court, rejecting the premise that the fire department existed as a separate entity apart from the city.