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$20 Million Verdict

Landmark Case:

Rivas v. J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc.

The Verdict:

$20 Million

CASE SYNOPSIS

Panish Shea & Boyle LLP represents Marina Rivas in a personal injury case arising from an accident in which a J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc. truck driver ran a red light, hit Ms. Rivas’ car and then fled from the scene of the accident, leaving Ms. Rivas catastrophically injured.

On May 2, 2008, Marina Rivas (then age 47) was returning home from a business trip to Bakersfield, where she was working in sales for a home security company. As Ms. Rivas was legally entering the intersection of Paramount Boulevard and Telegraph Road in Pico Rivera, she was hit by a 30,000 pound tractor-trailer driven by a J.B. Hunt employee who entered the intersection on a red light. The truck was moving at a speed of roughly 35-40 miles per hour when it hit the driver’s side of Ms. Rivas’ car, destroying the left side of her vehicle and pushing it through the intersection with such force that it left the roadway and slammed into a pole. The damage was so extreme that the driver’s door had to be removed by fire personnel to extract Ms. Rivas from the wreckage.

Incredibly, the J.B. Hunt driver fled the scene of the accident, making no attempt to report the incident or to render any type of emergency care to Ms. Rivas.

After being extracted from her vehicle, Ms. Rivas was taken to the hospital where her diagnoses included subarachnoid hemorrhage, concussion, and retrograde amnesia. She continues to suffer from serious cognitive impairments, chronic physical pain, and other conditions as a result of her injuries. Ms. Rivas has been unable to work since the accident and was required to move in with her cousin who helps care for her financially and physically.

During discovery in the case, it was learned that the J.B. Hunt driver had been hired and fired by J.B. Hunt twice in the past, including for being “unfit”. He had held 15 different jobs in the trucking industry since 1999 and was terminated from many of them for safety violations and incidents of violence. He also had a history of failing to report and attempting to cover up traffic accidents.

Although during the litigation the J.B. Hunt driver claimed that he “blacked out” and could not recall the accident, within days of the crash he gave two different detailed versions of the accident to the investigating police officer and J.B. Hunt’s claims adjuster. In both of these accounts, he claimed Ms. Rivas ran the red light despite the fact that there were two independent eye witnesses who confirm the contrary – that the J.B. Hunt driver ran the red light and fled the scene.

Trial in the case began with opening statements on July 19, 2012. In addition to economic and non-economic damages, the case seeks punitive damages against the defendants based on the conscious and deliberate disregard of the rights and safety of others that was shown by both the truck driver and J.B. Hunt, who hired the driver knowing his driving record and employment history.

Rivas v. J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. Case Articles

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