On September 16, 2013, a Los Angeles Superior Court jury awarded $17,120,662 to an 85-year-old man who was hit by a Southland Transit Inc. bus while he was lawfully walking in a crosswalk in Baldwin Park, California. The collision resulted in Julio Huayanca’s right leg being amputated. The same jury also determined that Southland Transit should be required to pay punitive damages because its conduct as an employer constituted malice. At trial, Mr. Huayanca was represented by Tom Schultz, Spencer Lucas and Brian Panish of Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP and Bobby Saadian of Wilshire Law Firm, PLC.
The August 27, 2012 collision occurred when a Southland Transit bus driver attempted to make a left turn though a crosswalk while Mr. Huayanca was walking across the street. Mr. Huayanca was hit and the 18-ton bus came to a rest on his right leg. The devastating degloving and orthopedic injuries that resulted eventually required Mr. Huayanca’s right leg to be amputated. Prior to the accident, Mr. Huayanca was an active senior who lived in his own apartment, regularly socialized with family and friends, and enjoyed dancing. As a result of his injuries, he is now in a wheelchair and required to live full time in a nursing facility where he can receive continual care.
The overwhelming evidence at trial established Southland Transit’s shoddy record of driver screening and training, including of the bus driver that hit Mr. Huayanca. That driver had hit 3 parked cars since 2007, had failed to complete the minimum hours of mandatory state and federal training and was only terminated from his job after the accident that catastrophically injured Mr. Huayanca. Even though the accident was witnessed by a police officer who placed the bus driver completely at fault, Southland Transit denied all liability for the collision until 6-weeks before the start of trial.
“We hope that the jury’s decision results in Southland and other transit companies implementing the kind of driver training that is needed to prevent these types of accidents”, said Mr. Huayanca’s attorney Tom Schultz. “Although Julio’s life will never be the same, he is hopeful that this verdict results in changes that will benefit other families, and he looks forward to continuing in his recovery.” Schultz said.