Kevin Smith received an overwhelmingly favorable jury verdict this afternoon in a wrongful death trial in Bakersfield, Silva v. Ortiz.
Decedent and his wife and 3 children were towing their boat on their way to a weekend holiday when they rear ended defendant's tractor trailer rig in the early morning hours. Both plaintiff and defense experts estimated the tractor trailer was traveling 10-20 mph on a state highway. Decedent was a railroad employee in his early 30's. Plaintiff alleged the accident was due to the slow speed of the tractor trailer constituting a hazard to other traffic.
Plaintiff demanded $2 million at two pre-trial settlement conferences. Defendant offered $200,000 and indicated a willingness to pay up to $500,000 before trial. Plaintiff asked the jury for $15.7 million. After only 1 1/2 hours of deliberation the jury returned a verdict for $300,000 but found the decedent 80% at fault, resulting in a minimal net award.
This is an outstanding result on a case the client clearly felt had substantial settlement value. Congratulations to Kevin on his trial win. Congratulations are also in order for the paralegals and secretaries who helped work up the case and provided critical logistical support during trial.