A Los Angeles jury has awarded $11 million to the family of a person killed in a crash involving a parked truck. Plaintiffs argued the trucker stopped to urinate. Defendants countered by claiming the truck was stopped for mechanical reasons.
On Thursday, Jan. 31, a Los Angeles superior court jury awarded Karen Garcia, representing the estate of her late husband Jose Antonio Garcia, $11 million for a truck-involved crash that claimed Jose’s life. Tri-Modal Distribution truck driver Jorge Garcia also was killed during the crash.
Garcia v. Tri-Modal Distribution
On May 22, 2013, Jorge Garcia was driving a 2010 Volvo truck pulling a 1992 trailer for Tri-Modal Distribution on the connector road from eastbound SR-60 to westbound SR-71 in Pomona, Calif., when he pulled over and parked his truck.
At the same time, a box truck driven by Sergio De La Torre was driving on the same stretch of road when he was cut off by another vehicle, causing him to veer onto the shoulder of the road. As De La Torre attempted to reenter the lane, he clipped the left-rear corner of Jorge’s parked truck. De La Torre’s passenger, Jose Garcia was killed. Jorge was also killed in the crash after he was run over by the box truck.
Plaintiffs accused Jorge of illegally parking his truck to urinate on the side of the road. However, Tri-Modal argued that Jorge pulled over as a result of mechanical issues.
According to the trial brief, Jorge and Tri-Modal were negligent under the assumption that policies prohibit stopping a truck on the shoulder unless there is a “catastrophic, emergent mechanical breakdown” or for a “sudden, unforeseen emergency.” Plaintiffs argue that Jorge’s situation did not fall under either of those criteria.
According to court documents, thorough inspections from law enforcement officers and experts revealed no mechanical issues with Jorge’s truck.
“At the moment the box truck struck the tractor trailer, Jorge Garcia was standing in between the tractor and trailer away from the vehicles passing by,” court documents state. “This is a location commonly used by truck drivers to hide from traffic. There is nothing to look at or inspect on a tractor-trailer in the position Jorge Garcia was standing.”
Additionally, Jorge was not wearing an orange safety vest, did not have any tools in his hand, did not have a flashlight in his hand, his radio was blasting music and he did not put out any flares or place any orange safety cones. Jorge also left the truck running when he jumped out of the passenger side door of his parked truck. Lastly, the comer’s office testified that they found Jorge with his pants unzipped and down at the scene.
Tri-Modal backed up its claim by stating Jorge called the company before the incident to report a problem with his trailer. However, it was never reported to the investigating police officers who went to Tri-Modal within hours of the incident to find out why Jorge pulled over. An officer testified that he directly asked if they had heard from Jorge that morning.
After weighing all the evidence, a jury found Tri-Modal negligent and responsible for the crash, awarding Jose’s spouse more than $11 million.
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