20-year-old makes evasive maneuver, loses control and crashes into parked truck. $30M. Ventura County.

Summary

The driver died of her injuries and her parents brought suit. Truck driver had parked rig on side of highway.

The Case

  • Case Name: Rodolfo Plascencia, an individual; Diocelina Trujillo an individual v. Charles Gynn Deese, an individual; Flat Creek Transportation, an Alabama Corporation
  • Court and Case Number: Ventura Superior Court / 56-2015-00475756-CU-PO-VTA
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Monday, March 25, 2019
  • Date Action was Filed: Tuesday, May 05, 2015
  • Type of Action: Negligence
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Matthew P. Guasco
  • Plaintiffs:
    Rodolfo Plascencia (father of decedent)
    Diocelina Trujillo (mother of decedent)
  • Defendants:
    Charles Gynn Deese (truck driver)
    Flat Creek Transportation (Mr. Deese's employer)
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $30,000,000
  • Net Verdict or Award: $12,000,000
  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: 40% to defendants Deese/Flat Creek Transportation and 60% to Newcomb.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Homampour Law Firm by Arash Homampour and Scott E. Boyer, Sherman Oaks.

    Law Offices of Hamed Yazdanpanah by Hamed Yazdanpanah, Beverly Hills.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Gutierrez, Preciado & House, LLP by Arthur C. Preciado and Arthur Javier, Pasadena.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Lew Grill, trucking/safety, Billings, MT.

    David J. King, accident reconstruction, Los Angeles.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Larry E. Miller, trucking/safety, La Verne.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On April 19, 2014, Anita Newcomb (a nurse) made a dangerous U-turn from the parking lot of Francisco’s Fruit Stand, across both lanes of east Highway 126 traffic directly in front of 20-year-old Jocelyne Plascencia, causing Jocelyne to lose control of her vehicle and swerve to the right where she collided with the back of defendants Charles Deese/Flat Creek Transportation’s tractor trailer. The tractor trailer had been parked on the shoulder of the highway for a few minutes because Deese claimed he had a “hot oil” emergency.

    Newcomb allegedly fled the scene, claiming she did not know there was an accident. She was charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter under Penal Code § 192(c)(2) and pled nolo contendere in the criminal matter. Jocelyne died from her injuries on May 24, 2014.

    Plaintiffs initially pursued claims against the State (dangerous condition of public property), Newcomb, Francisco’s Fruits (premises liability) and Deese/Flat Creek. After settling with the other parties, plaintiffs’ case proceeded to trial against the defendant truck driver Deese and his employer Flat Creek Transportation only.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That defendant truck driver was negligent in parking his truck on the highway shoulder because he did not have an emergency and, if he did have an emergency, he should have left when it was confirmed the emergency no longer existed.

    Further,  that if the tractor trailer had not been parked on the shoulder, Jocelyne’s vehicle would have come to rest on the shoulder and the resulting collision and catastrophic injuries would not have occurred.

    Plaintiffs conceded before trial that Newcomb was negligent, her negligence was a substantial factor in causing the incident, and some fault should be apportioned to her.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendants contended that Deese pulled over on the side of the highway because he smelled hot oil coming from his vehicle and that it was an emergency.

    Defendants further contended that the accident was caused entirely by Newcomb.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Past and future non-economic loss, including loss of love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, and moral support.

Additional Notes

The parties unsuccessfully mediated this matter and defendants rejected plaintiffs’ repeated offers to settle for defendants’ $1 million in policy limits. Plaintiffs settled with Newcomb for her policy limits before trial.

Plaintiffs are expecting to receive at least an additional $2,363,835 in pre-judgment interest as they recovered more than their C.C.P. Section 998 for $1,000,000 served on April 7, 2017. Plaintiffs also expect to recover over $150,000 for costs.

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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