Pickup truck driver strikes car with family of three. $70M. Kern County.
Serious injuries to thee family members when pickup truck with trailer strikes their vehicle at intersection.
- Case Name: Tomasa Cuevas, Alejandro Cuevas, Maritza Cuevas v. Ajit Singh Rai dba Rai Transport
- Court and Case Number: Kern County Superior Court / BCV-18-100615
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, December 18, 2019
- Date Action was Filed: Thursday, March 15, 2018
- Type of Action: Vehicles - Intersection, Vehicles - Truck vs. Auto
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Stephen D. Schuett
- Plaintiffs: Tomasa Cuevas, 45.Alejandro Cuevas, 17.Maritza Cuevas, 15.
- Defendants: Ajit Singh Rai, owner of defendant transport company.
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $70,578,289
- Award as to each Defendant:
The verdict included $26 million for Alejandro who accepted a full scholarship to UC Davis. The jury limited damages for future economic loss to $590,855, but awarded $11 million for past non-economic losses and $14.5 million for future non-economic losses.
The jury gave Tomasa nearly $39 million, including $13 million for past non-economic losses and $19.5 million in future non-economic losses as well as $6,487,434 in future economic losses.
The jury gave Martiza $5.5 million, with $3.5 million in past non-economic losses and $2 million in future non-economic losses.
- Economic Damages:
For Alejandro, the jury limited damages for future economic loss to $590,855.
For Tomasa, the jury gave $6,487,434 in future economic losses.
- Non-Economic Damages:
For Alejandro, the jury awarded $11 million for past non-economic losses and $14.5 for future non-economic losses.
The jury gave Tomasa $13 million for past non-economic losses and $19.5 million in future non-economic losses.
The jury gave Martiza $3.5 million in past non-economic losses and $2 million in future non-economic losses.
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 12 days
- Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Defendants' motion for new trial was granted in part, with a remittitur issued on the issue of Tomasa Cuevas's future economic damages.
- Attorney for the Plaintiff:
The Law Firm of Joseph H. Low IV by Joseph H. Low IV, Long Beach.
Rodriguez & Associates by Daniel Rodriguez, Danay S. Gonzalez and Chantal A. Trujillo, Bakersfield.
- Attorney for the Defendant:
Bishop | Barry by Aaron C. Hancock, Emeryville.
- Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
Bradley Jabour, M.D., neuroradiology, Los Angeles.
Sharon Kawai, life care planning, Fullerton.
Galina Nikolskaya, M.D., neurology, San Diego.
Mariusz Ziejewski, biomechanics, Fargo, ND.
Michael Price, M.D., orthopedics, Bakersfield.
Penelope Suter, OD, neuro-optometry, Bakersfield.
Tony Strickland, Ph.D., neuropsychology, Culver City.
- Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
Shawn Hodges, M.D., pain management. (Treating physician.)
Kimberley Lakes,, Ph.D., child psychology.
- Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):
Robert Johnson, economics, Los Altos.
Jon Landerville, accident reconstruction, Torrance.
- Defendant's Technical Expert(s): Tamara Rockholt, health care costs.
Facts and Background
- Facts and Background:
Plaintiff Tomasa Cuevas was driving her two children to go shopping in Bakersfield when their SUV was T-boned by defendant Rai Transport's pickup truck with trailer that ran a red light. The driver declared bankruptcy and did not participate in the trial. Defendant trucking company is a small, independent operator.
- Plaintiff's Contentions:
That the collision was avoidable because defendant should not have been driving since his license was suspended due to over a dozen prior accidents.
- Defendant's Contentions:
Defendant denied the contentions.
Injuries and Other Damages
- Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:
Tomasa Cuevas, mother of four, suffered skull and facial fractures and a brain bleed. Her olfactory nerves were ripped out and her vision is damaged.
Alex Cuevas, decorated high school cross-country runner and Tomasa's son, suffered skull and facial fractures, dislocated hips, and a brain bleed.
Maritza Cuevas, Tomasa's daughter, suffered scratches and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Demands and Offers
- Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: $1,000,000 policy limit.