Man dies in crash between two pickup trucks. $5M. Stanislaus County.

Summary

Liability is disputed in high-speed head-on crash on two-lane road.

The Case

  • Case Name: Rosemary Perkins, individually and as the Successor-in-Interest to The Estate of Paul Perkins, and Maria Consuelo Rosas-Calderon, v. Waterworks Industries, Incorporated, William Anthony Borges, Jr., and DOES 1 to 30, inclusive
  • Court and Case Number: Stanislaus County Superior Court / CV18003284
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, May 26, 2021
  • Date Action was Filed: Thursday, October 04, 2018
  • Type of Action: Negligence, Vehicles - Auto vs. Auto, Wrongful Death
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Sonny S. Sandhu
  • Plaintiffs:
    Rosemary Perkins
  • Defendants:
    Waterworks Industries, Incorporated
    William Anthony Borges, Jr.
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $5,000,000
  • Net Verdict or Award: $5,000,000 to Perkins.
  • Settlement Amount: Plaintiff Maria Consuelo Rosas-Calderon settled her case for the total sum of $75,000 with medical specials of less than $1,500 paid by Medi-Cal.
  • Economic Damages:

    Past and future economic damages for wrongful death of husband: $1,000,000 

    Past medical expenses: $100,000

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Non-economic damages for loss of husband: $3,500,000 

    Past personal injury, physical pain, mental suffering: $400,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 9 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes
  • Jury Polls: 12-0

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Penney & Associates by Kevin L. Elder and Garrett M. Penney, Rocklin.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Severson & Werson by Kenneth C. Ward, Nandor Krause and Jeremiah Harvey, San Francisco.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Michael R. Klein, Jr., MD, orthopedics/defense medical examination, Gold River.

    Jacob S. Barber, DDS, oral/maxillary surgery, Modesto.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Michael R. Klein, Jr., MD, orthopedics/defense medical examination, Gold River.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Jeffrey Bonsall, momentum engineering, accident reconstruction, Torrance.

    Craig Enos, economics, Folsom.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Laura Dolan, economics, San Diego.

    Rajeev Kelkar, Ph.D., accident reconstruction, Mountain View.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On March 1, 2017, decedent Paul Perkins, age 64, his wife, plaintiff Rosemary Perkins, age 64 , and their neighbor and friend, Maria Consuelo Rosas-Calderon, age 41, were traveling southbound on Terminal Avenue between Riverbank and Modesto at approximately 6:30 p.m. Terminal Avenue is a two-lane road without any adjacent improvements, lights or fog lines identifying the edge of the roadway. The road was painted with yellow skip-stripes identifying the northbound and southbound lanes. Plaintiffs were traveling in a half-ton, 2002 GMC pick-up truck at an estimated speed of 55-56 miles per hour. The posted speed limit was 55 miles per hour.

    At the same time, defendant Waterworks Industries employee William Anthony Borges, Jr., was traveling northbound in a 2011 Ford F-350 pick-up truck. Defendants admitted that Borges was operating a company-owned vehicle within the course and scope of his employment at the time of the incident. The incident occurred when the left front of the Waterworks pick-up truck struck the left front of the plaintiffs' pick-up truck at a closing speed estimated at 125 miles per hour.

    Plaintiff Rosemary Perkins' decedent, Paul Perkins, was killed instantly. Defendant Waterworks' employee, William Anthony Borges, Jr., sustained a scratch to his finger while plaintiff Rosemary Perkins, in addition to losing her husband, suffered a broken jaw and a fracture of her left tibial plateau. Right rear passenger, Maria Ross-Calderon, suffered from a fractured sternum. Data retrieved from the EDR contained within defendant Waterworks' Ford pick-up truck revealed that defendant Borges' speed at the moment of impact was 70 miles per hour. The data also revealed that there were no steering movements to avoid the impact nor was there any braking during the 5 seconds before impact.

    Both experts agreed that the impact occurred in the southbound lane. 

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiffs argued that defendants' vehicle crossed over the center line and into the southbound lane causing the incident.

    Plaintiffs' expert, Jeffrey Bonsall with Momentum Engineering, testified that based upon gouge marks in the roadway, the physical evidence to both vehicles, and the data from the EDR from defendants' truck, the impact occurred as much as three feet into plaintiffs' southbound lane.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendants contested liability and argued that plaintiff's decedent, Paul Perkins, contributed to the cause of the incident by traveling either on or over the skip-striped middle line of the roadway.

    Defendants' expert, Rajeev Kelkar, PhD, testified that the impact occurred either on the center line or approximately 6-12 inches inside the southbound lane.

    Defendants, through their experts, contended that plaintiffs created a condition of imminent peril which excused defendants' conduct. An independent witness who was traveling behind the Perkins vehicle testified that the Perkins vehicle was traveling southbound and either crossed the center line into the northbound lane or was near the center line during the moments before the impact. Based upon this testimony, defendants' expert Rajeev Kelkar, PhD, testified that defendant Borges was presented with a condition of imminent peril when he observed the headlights of plaintiffs' vehicle traveling in the northbound lane and across the center line, which caused Borges to move his vehicle to the east side of the road, causing him to leave the roadway surface. When he attempted to get back onto the roadway surface, he temporarily lost control of his vehicle causing him to travel across the northbound lane and into the southbound lane.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    In addition to the loss of her husband, plaintiff Rosemary Perkins suffered from a broken jaw that was wired shut for 60 days, along with a tibial plateau fracture, both of which resolved within 12 months.

     

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: $5,600,000
  • Defendant Final Offer before Trial: $3,000,000, increased to $3,250,000 30 days before trial.

Additional Notes

Per defense counsel

Plaintiff’s final demand before trial was $6,000,000.

*Plaintiff’s counsel denies making a final demand of $6,000,000.

 

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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