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$2.67 Million Awarded to Parents for the Wrongful Death of Their 48-Year-Old Son

The Daily Journal

VERDICT: $ 2,670,000

CASE/NUMBER: Kenneth Sorenson and Lilian Sorenson v. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad / JC4268

COURT/DATE: Orange Superior / May 7, ’05

JUDGE: Hon. Ronazo Bauer

ATTORNEYS: Plaintiff – Kevin R. Boyle, Brian J. Panish (Panish Shea & Boyle, L.A.) Defendant – Wayne Simes (Simes Law Firm, Newport Beach)

FACTS & CONTENTIONS: In April 2002, Larry Sorenson, a 48-year-old computer engineer, was a passenger on a commuter train that was struck head-on by a freight train of defendant Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. Sorenson was killed. He is survived by his parents, plaintiffs Kenneth and Lilian Sorenson. Plaintiffs sued defendant for wrongful death damages.

DAMAGES: Plaintiffs, both in their 70’s, claimed loss of love and companionship damages. They claimed their son Larry helped them significantly, driving them to medical appointments and helping them with other errands. Although plaintiffs had three other children, Larry lived closest and because he did not have a family of his own, he was the most consistently helpful to them. Further, Larry and his father shared a love of cars and model-making, and his mother loved to cook for him. Plaintiffs sought $3 million. Defendant Claimed that the plaintiffs were entitled to $100,000 to $300,000 per parent based on their life expectancy of 5 to 7 years and because they had three other children. The defense also asserted that they were not financially dependant on Larry and that they visited Larry infrequently.

SETTLEMENT DISCUSSIONS: Plaintiffs made a demand of $3 million; defendant made an offer of $1.7 million.

THE RESULT: The jury found in favor of plaintiffs and awarded them $2.67 million.

Sorenson v. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad

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