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Auto Accident

Verdict:

$10,646,446


JAIME FLORES AGUILAR, individually and as successor-in-interest of MARIA JUANA FLORES, deceased; and as Representative of the ESTATE OF MARIA JUANA FLORES; and as guardian ad litem for JOSUE FLORES CHAVEZ, a minor, and JULIA FLORES CHAVEZ, a minor, and NATALIE JOANA FLORES CHAVEZ,  a minor.
Plaintiffs,
 vs.
STATE OF CALIFORNIA and GILBERT PETER FREETH


CASE NUMBER:   SCV - 248349

Court Superior Court of Sonoma County, Sonoma
Judge Nancy Case Shaffer
Date   2/06/2013
 
Plaintiff Attorney(s)

Jeremy R. Fietz, Lead Trial Counsel, TheLawFirm.com (Adams Fietz), Santa Rosa, CA
             
Defense Attorney(s)
Landa S. Low and Patrick Petersen, California Department of Transportation, Legal Division, San Francisco, CA (California Department of Transportation)
             
Facts & Allegations
On October 16, 2009, Maria Flores, a 36 year old stay-at-home mom, stopped to make a left turn from Highway 116 onto Madrone Avenue in Coati to pick up children at Thomas Page Elementary School.  Maria was waiting for gap in traffic when her Honda was rear-ended by a vehicle operated by Gilbert Freeth. The impact pushed Flores' Honda into the path of an 18 wheel big-rig truck. Flores' Honda was crushed, and Ms. Flores was killed.


Plaintiffs, Jaime Flores Aguilar (Maria's husband) as well as their children Natalie, Julia, and Josue, claimed the intersection was unsafe without a left turn pocket due to high traffic volumes and development in the area, including the elementary school close by.  Plaintiffs sued Freeth for motor vehicle negligence and sued Caltrans for dangerous condition of public property. Freeth was dismissed from the case prior to trial for a $100,000 settlement from his insurer.


Plaintiffs contended that Caltrans engineers knew the intersection was unsafe, as there were unfulfilled plans dating back to 1998 to build a left-turn lane based upon high traffic volumes.  Caltrans contended the intersection was not to blame, and that Freeth was entirely responsible for the collision as he was not paying attention when he rear-ended Flores' Honda, at 45 mph on a flat, straight road.   Caltrans pointed to a lack of significant accident history to show the intersection was not dangerous, and pointed to environmental and other planning issues as the reasons for the left-turn project’s delays.


Injuries/Damages

Flores’s husband and children sought economic damages for the value of lost household services provided by Maria, and damages for the loss of love, support, guidance and comfort caused by her death.
 

Result

The jury awarded plaintiffs $10,646,446 ($646,446 in economic damages and $10 million in non-economic damages). The jury apportioned 25 percent fault to CalTrans and 75 percent to Freeth. 
 
Plaintiff(s):
Estate of Maria Juana Flores
Jaime Flores Aguilar
Natalie Flores Chavez
Julia Flores Chavez
Josue Flores Chavez

Demand: $1.2 million
Offer $150,000
Insurer(s)
None reported
 
Trial Details
Trial Length: 3 weeks
Jury Deliberations: 2 ½ days
Jury Poll: 9-3
Jury Composition: 4 men, 8 women
 
Plaintiff Expert(s)
Robert Crommelin (Traffic Engineer)
Matthew Schwall (Accident Reconstructionist)
 
Defense Expert(s)
Edward Ruzak (Traffic Engineer)
Stephen Fenton (Accident Reconstructionist)
Thomas Ayers (Human Factors)


Post-Trial
State has waived appeal and has paid its portion of the judgment – approximately $3.2 Million dollars.


CASE REPORT:

PERSONAL INJURY

Pedestrian hit by taxi cab.

Jury Verdict:

$800,000


CHRISTINA BURLISON, an individual,
Plaintiff,
vs.
NEW DESOTO CAB COOPERATIVE COMPANY, INC. DBA DESOTO CAB CO-OP, PETER CORYELL, and DOES 1 to 10, inclusive,
Defendants.


CASE NUMBER:  
CGC-11-507177

Court              Superior Court of San Francisco
Judge            Hon. Peter Busch
Year:              2013
 
Plaintiff Attorney(s)
Jeremy R. Fietz (Lead Counsel),TheLawFirm.com(Adams Fietz), Santa Rosa, CA

           
Defense Attorney(s)
Lawrence E. Kern and Stacey Chau, Kern, Noda, Devine & Segal, San Francisco, CA

Facts & Allegations

At 6pm, on January 16, 2009, Plaintiff, Christina Burlison was walking across a cross-walk at Broadway and Sansome, in the financial district of San Francisco, when a taxi-cab driven owned by Defendant Desoto Cab (cab company), and driven by the Defendant, Peter Coryell (cab driver), struck her down.  Plaintiff was ambulanced to San Francisco General Hospital, treated and released that night.  Witnesses, including the cab’s passenger, placed Plaintiff in the cross-walk at the time of the collision.

 

Injuries/Damages

Plaintiff’s injuries, which were not all immediately diagnosed, included a tailbone injury, labral tear in her right hip, injury to the buttock, nerve damage radiating from her lower back to her legs, back and neck pain and soreness and bruising all over her body.

Treatment for the above enumerated injuries was extensive.  Her injuries mostly resolved through various treatments except for persistent chronic hip pain. Approximately 2 years after the collision, Plaintiff had a hip surgery to repair a torn hip labrum, which Defendant contended was not caused by the collision.  Christina Burlison incurred $80,000 in medical expenses and $20,000 in lost wages. 
At trial defendant argued that Plaintiffs total damages should be between $100,000 and $200,000.  Plaintiff’s counsel requested a verdict of $1.1m.


Result

The jury awarded plaintiff $800,000 against the Defendants. 

Plaintiff(s):
Christina Burlison
Demand: $500,000
Offer $250,000
Insurer(s)
Mercury Insurance
 
Trial Details
Trial Length: 1 week
Jury Deliberations: 2 days
Jury Poll: 11-1

Plaintiff Expert(s)
Creed Wood, MD (Orthopedist)

Defense Expert(s)

David Bradshaw, MD (Rehab Doctor)       

Post-Trial

Defendant paid the judgment in the amount of $850,000.

CASE REPORTS:

WRONGFUL DEATH

Nursing Home Negligence

CONFIDENTIAL SETTLEMENT:

$275,000


CHILDREN OF A 71 YEAR OLD WOMAN (Ms. Phillips).
vs.
BAD NURSING HOME
 
Plaintiff Attorney(s)

Jeremy R. Fietz, TheLawFirm.com, Santa Rosa, California Office;
             
Defense Attorney(s)
Nursing Home Defense Firm
             
Facts & Allegations
On March 11, 2011, Mrs. Phillips was admitted to the Defendants’ Facility. At the time of admission, she was 71 years old with a history of kidney failure and heart disease. She had recently fallen and her elderly husband was not able to care for her. She was unable to walk without assistance, thus she was brought into the Facility in a wheelchair.


In fact, it was because of the danger of falling that prompted the Plaintiffs to find her a facility to live in, where she could receive round-the-clock assistance and supervision. The Facility’s records showed that they considered her a high fall risk. Despite this, the Facility failed to take adequate measures to protect Ms. Phillips from falling. Within 5 days of being admitted to their facility she had fallen 4 times and died from blunt force trauma to the head from falling. The facility defended the case saying that they cared for her within the standard of care and that they could not prevent Phillips from trying to walk around the home.

 

Injuries/Damages

Plaintiffs sought general damages for the loss of love caused by the death of their mother.

 

Result

The parties settled for $275,000 through private mediation.

 

CASE REPORT:

WRONGFUL DEATH

Dangerous Condition of Public Property

SETTLEMENT:

$335,000


MARINA ROBLEDO, mother of EDGAR PEREZ LOPEZ.

Plaintiffs,

vs.

CITY OF SANTA ROSA and PACIFIC GAS & ELECTRIC COMPANY

 

CASE NUMBER:   SCV - 247170

 

Plaintiff Attorney(s)

Jeremy R. Fietz, TheLawFirm.com, Santa Rosa, California Office;

 

Defense Attorney(s)

Robert Jackson and John Fritsch, Legal Department, City of Santa Rosa

 

Facts & Allegations

In 2009, Edgar Perez-Lopez, a graduate of Elsie Allen High School and his cousin were walking to a nearby bookstore to buy books for school at 8:36 p.m. when they began crossing Santa Rosa Avenue at Court Street in a marked crosswalk. Mr. Richard Gonsalves, 66 years old, of Santa Rosa driving his F-150 pickup truck hit Edgar in the crosswalk, killing him. Mr. Gonsalves and his passenger told police that because it was so dark in the roadway, they did not see Edgar until it was too late.

 

The family alleged in the law suit that the streetlight at the east end of the crosswalk was out for more than a year at the time of the accident, and several other streetlights in the immediate area have been turned off by the city of Santa Rosa to save money.

 

Plaintiff alleged that, contrary to its express policies, the City of Santa Rosa negligently failed to maintain the streetlight over the cross-walk and that the lack of light was a cause of Edgar’s death. Plaintiff alleged that because of the dangerous condition of the roadway, the driver did not have reasonable notice that Edgar was crossing the road. The City admitted the light over the crosswalk was not functioning but asserted that the law code does not permit a government entity to become liable due to the lack of lighting. The city brought a cross-complaint against PG&E due to a failed PG&E transformer that contributed to the lighting malfunction.

 

Injuries/Damages

Marina Robledo sought General damages for the loss of love, support, guidance and comfort cause by the death of her son.

Since Edgar Perez-Lopez was not covered by health insurance the emergency bills room bills alone were nearly $40,000.

 

Result

After the City of Santa Rosa was unable to convince the Court to dismiss the plaintiff’s case, the City turned its focus upon blaming PG&E which owned and maintained the malfunctioning transformer at the intersection.

 

In the end, the City settled the lawsuit paying $335,000 to the Perez-Lopez famil

 


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