A jury in California has awarded a couple $5.7 million in a lawsuit arising out of an incident that occurred about two years ago. The couple’s family van had been rear-ended by a Southern California Edison truck in a snowstorm. The jurors awarded Manuel Ornelas nearly $160,000 for his current medical bills and lost wages, and $1.2 million for future medical bills and lost wages. The jurors also awarded $4.16 million for past and future physical pain and emotional suffering. His wife, Corina Ornelas, was awarded $2,426 for medical bills and $200,000 for emotional suffering and for loss of consortium.
Back in January, 2009, Manuel Ornelas had stopped his van safely in an appropriate area to install snow chains. The 10,000-pound Edison truck rear-ended his van, causing Mr. Ornelas to suffer severe injuries to his back and pelvis. The driver of the truck, who was 23 years old, was found to be driving too fast for the dangerous conditions. He had passed several signs that read, “Chains required,” which could have had an effect on the verdict. As a result of the crash, Mr. Ornelas, an engineer for the California Department of Transportation, is in constant and intense pain and is unable to work. According to testimony at trial, the former marathon runner now needs a cane to walk. He can’t control his bowels and can’t sit for long periods of time. Doing simple things such as picking up his children are no longer possible for this man.
Southern California Edison made an initial $1.7 million offer of settlement prior to the trial. But as the trial progressed – especially after the testimony of several medical experts – the offer was increased to $5 million. The Plaintiffs rejected that offer and let the jury decide the value of the claims. Patrick Toole and Richard C. Watters, lawyers with two firms in Fresno, Calif., represented the Plaintiff and they did a very good job.
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