Jury Awards $150M In Southern California Wrongful Death Case

 Thursday, October 31, 2013

 Insurance Journal

A jury has awarded more than $150 million in damages to a 13-year-old girl who watched her family burn to death in a fiery crash on a Southern California freeway. “It’s hard for her to comprehend” the scope of the verdict reached last week in Los Angeles Superior Court, attorney Brian Brandt said Monday about his young client. The jury found a California trucking company and one of its drivers liable. Kylie Asam was 9 when she and her 11-year-old brother, Blaine, managed to escape from their family’s mangled sport utility vehicle after it struck and got caught under a big rig parked on the shoulder of an expressway nearly four years ago. They saw their parents and older brother burn alive after the vehicle they were trapped in caught fire. The verdict included $8.75 million the jury awarded to Blaine, who committed suicide on his mother’s birthday, before the trial began, Brandt said. That money will go to Kylie as her brother’s successor-in-interest, but all of the award will be placed in a trust until she is 18, he said. A jury deliberated for about three days before finding Friday that the truck driver, Rudolph Ortiz, was negligent for parking on the side of the freeway in the early morning darkness without leaving on any light or emergency reflector. Ortiz and his employer, Watsonville-based Bhandal Bros. Trucking, were found jointly liable.
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