Jury Finds Caltrans Liable for Dangerous Road in Fatal Automobile Head-On Collision

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The Los Angeles personal injury law firm of Magaña, Cathcart & McCarthy obtained a jury verdict in favor of their client and against Caltrans for creating a dangerous road condition and failing to correct it in a timely manner.

Los Angeles personal injury law firm, Magaña, Cathcart & McCarthy, announces a jury verdict in favor of their client in the case of AUDREY BRIANN AGUILAR v. TRICOR AMERICA INC, case number 37-2012-00086554-CU-PA-CTL, in the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego. Law firm Associate Attorney Richard L. Bisettti represented Mercedes Perez, the mother of Francisco Perez, a driver who was killed in a head-on collision that occurred on a dangerous stretch of road negligently created and maintained by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). The jury returned an $850,000 verdict to Ms. Perez for the wrongful death of her son, although the award was reduced to $425,000 since Mr. Perez was found to be 50% at fault for the accident.

According to court documents, on August 28th, 2012, Mary Helen Aguilar was driving a Honda Odyssey with seven passengers on California State Route 78 between Ramona and Julian in San Diego, when she collided head-on with a Pontiac Vibe driven by Francisco Perez. The drivers of both vehicles were killed. Two of Mary Helen's daughters were also killed in the crash. A third daughter was severely injured and rendered a paraplegic with residual closed head injuries, while a fourth daughter suffered multiple orthopedic injuries. The front seat passenger, Gail Romero, suffered serious orthopedic injuries and head trauma.

In the ensuing litigation, Mary Helen's surviving daughters sued for personal injury and the wrongful death of their mother, while her former husband sued for the wrongful death of the two daughters who perished in the crash. Gail Romero also sought damages for her personal injuries, and her husband sued for loss of consortium. Finally, Mercedes Perez, the mother of Francisco Perez, sought damages for the wrongful death of her son and general damages for the loss of love, care, comfort, society and support occasioned by his death.

Francisco Perez was on the job at the time of the collision, and the primary defendant in the case was originally Tricor America, Inc., the company which employed Mr. Perez as a driver. However, Tricor settled the plaintiffs' claims against it, leaving Caltrans as the sole defendant. Tricor remained in the suit with cross-claims against Caltrans, seeking damages for destruction of property and equitable indemnity for its settlement with the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs and Tricor contended that State Route 78 in the area of the collision constituted a dangerous condition of public property - specifically due to a high pavement edge on the north shoulder of the roadway - and that this dangerous condition was a substantial factor in causing the crash. The jury agreed that SR 78 was a dangerous condition created by Caltrans and also that Caltrans had notice of the dangerous condition but failed to correct it in a timely manner. In fact, Caltrans had corrected the opposite shoulder 14 months before the accident but never got around to fixing the other side, which contributed to the accident.

About Magaña, Cathcart & McCarthy
For over sixty years, Magaña, Cathcart & McCarthy has been devoted to protecting the legal rights of accident victims in all areas of personal injury and wrongful death law, including aviation, automobile, product liability, railroad, construction, medical malpractice and maritime law.

Contact: Carter Spohn
1900 Avenue of the Stars
Suite 650, Los Angeles
California 90067

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Carter Spohn

by NextClient Staff Writer
since: 10/2011
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