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Jury Awards $5.6 Million for Imperial County Crash Injuries

The Daily Journal
By Peter B. Matuszak – Daily Journal Staff Writer

September 14, 2007

A jury has awarded $5.6 million to a woman who was seriously injured when a minivan she was riding in was struck by a farm truck at a crossroads in Imperial County six years ago.

The Superior Court jury in El Centro rendered its verdict Monday after a monthlong trial to determine the size of the award. Avila v. Dresick Farms, L-00916 (Imperial County Super. Ct. Sept. 10, 2007).

Dresick Farms, owner of the truck, earlier admitted negligence on the part of the driver.

Teresa Gonzalez, who was 15 at the time of the accident, will receive $2.5 million for pain and suffering, $1.2 million for ongoing medical expenses and $1.9 million for other expenses under the verdict.

“I am very happy with the verdict for that venue,” said lead attorney Brian Panish of San Diego firm Panish Hoey and Los Angeles firm Panish, Shea & Boyle LLP. “[Gonzalez] will now be able to get the medical care she needs, the therapy, and move on with her life.”

During the six years after the collision, Gonzales underwent 21 surgeries to repair the damage to her face, jaw and skull, Panish said.

He said because of the accident and ongoing recovery, Gonzalez, now 21, was unable to finish high school. She will need more surgery along with treatment for depression stemming from her injuries, he said.

Gonzalez’s father, who was the van’s driver, and six other passengers settled claims against Dresick without going to trial.

Dan Bacalski, who along with Denise Serino of Bacalski Ottoson represented Dresick Farms, said he is “very pleased” with the size of the award.

Bacalski said the verdict was close to the $5 million settlement that Dresick Farms offered just before the trial began.
James Hoey, the other name partner of Panish Hoey, and Spencer Lucas, an attorney with Panish Shea & Boyle LLP, also served as plaintiffs’ attorneys in the case.

The award paled in comparison to the largest personal injury verdict in the state this year, the $55 million judgment in Mraz v. DaimlerChrysler Co., BC332487 (Los Angeles Super. Ct., filed March 2, 2007).

Mraz involved the death of a man who was killed when his truck ran him over because of an alleged manufacturer’s defect that caused the vehicle to spontaneously reverse after he stepped out of it.

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