$36.25M Awarded to Family of Motorcyclist Killed By Pickup Truck
A California state court jury awards $36.25 million to the parents of David Andrade, a motorcyclist, who was killed after colliding with a pickup truck. The driver of the truck, Luis Tampia, was attempting to make a left turn out of a driveway across traffic.
After two days of deliberation, the jury returned their verdict on September 16th. The trial began on August 29th. They awarded over $18 million to Hortencia and Salvador Andrade, the parents of David Andrade.
After the trial, the plaintiff’s attorney Arash Homampour told Courtroom View Network that the jury’s award exceeded the defense’s most recent settlement offer of $2 million. The settlement was reduced from an initial offer of $4 million.
He claims that the plaintiffs attempt to settle within the defendant’s insurance policy limits of $10 million on numerous occasions but were turned down by The Hartford Insurance Company. Homampour added that costs and interest could add an additional $8.7 million to the award amount.
Courtroom View Network reached out to Hartford attorney Ruth Kahn, who represented defendant Luis Tampia. She did not respond.
During his closing argument, Homampour told jurors that the case boils down to the defendant, Luis Tapia, not paying enough attention before slowly edging his truck out of the driveway and onto the road.
However, Khan claims Andrade was at fault for the accident. Khan claims he was speeding at the time and citing small traces of methamphetamine found in his bloodstream.
The jury determine Andrade was negligent. They also determine his actions did not play a significant role in his death.
During his closing argument, Homampour bemoans to the jury the length of the trial. He implies that the extensive testimony from expert witnesses retained by the defense claiming Tapia could not see Andrade’s oncoming motorcycle was unnecessary.
“Mr. Andrade has the right of way, he had the right to rely on the good conduct of Mr. Tapia, and Mr. Tapia cut him off. That’s the case. That’s it, it’s over,” Homampour argued. “This should have been done in a day and then we consider damages.”
Homampour contends that forensic accident reconstruction efforts and Tapia’s own testimony demonstrate that he should have seen and heard the motorcyclist and that from Tapia’s vantage point, he had 20 seconds of visibility to notice the approaching motorcycle.
“Is he distracted because he’s daydreaming? Is he distracted because of his phone? I don’t know he hasn’t admitted it,” Homampour said. “But a reasonable inference just looking at how he rolls through this intersection tells you that he’s not paying attention.”
Homampour pushes back hard on the methamphetamine claims. He told jurors that none of the defense’s expert witnesses suggest the trace amounts of the drug found in his system would have impaired his driving.
During her closing arguments on behalf of the defendant, Khan argues that Andrade was at fault and that Tapia, who she claimed did not have enough time to react to the oncoming motorcyclist, did not act recklessly.
“The evidence shows his conduct was reasonable under the circumstances,” she told the jury.
She claims that surveillance video of the accident shows Tapia had his left turn signal on and that his one-mile-per-hour exit from the driveway indicated he was looking for oncoming traffic.
“He went out slowly and cautiously to make sure the coast was clear,” Kahn said. “If the motorcycle was visible to him, then he was visible to the motorcycle.”
Judge Mark Borenstein presided over the trial.
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