On December 10, 2015, an Imperial County Superior Court jury awarded nearly $10 million to a man who suffered a below the knee amputation after he was struck by a vehicle driven by a State of California employee. The plaintiff was represented at trial by Deborah Chang, Tom Schultz, and Austin Ward of Panish Shea & Boyle LLP. The plaintiff was also represented by Robert A. Espinosa and Terry Singleton.
Plaintiff Jerry Rabb was riding his Harley Davidson eastbound on Main Street in El Centro, California on November 9, 2011 when defendant Tony Lee Royer made an improper left turn in front of him. Royer, driving a 2007 Chevrolet Silverado, struck Rabb’s motorcycle, causing catastrophic injuries to the 45-year-old man who underwent a lower left-leg amputation as a result of the collision.The defendant was performing work for California’s Air Resources Board at the time of the crash.
Married for nearly three decades to his wife Rosa, Rabb was employed as a senior apprentice lineman at Imperial Irrigation District (IID) in El Centro. As the founder of Buffalo Riders, he was an avid motorcyclist prior to his injuries.
During the five-week trial, the court bifurcated liability and damages. The jury found the defendant to be 100 percent responsible, even though the defense claimed the plaintiff was speeding on his motorcycle. In the damages phase, the defense claimed the plaintiff was a drug and alcohol addict and was not deserving of a substantial award. The jury’s $9,928,387.87 verdict sent a resounding answer that they disagreed with the portrayal of the plaintiff by the defense.
Pretrial, the defense only offered $1.32 million to settle the case, believing that the jury would not exceed the prior record verdict in an Imperial Country personal injury case of $5.6 million. That verdict was also obtained by Panish Shea & Boyle LLP nearly a decade ago. The verdict rendered in this case was nearly double the prior record and followed on the heels of another $5.1 million El Centro verdict obtained by Panish Shea & Boyle LLP in October. It is believed that Panish Shea & Boyle LLP now holds the top three largest personal injury verdicts in Imperial County’s history.
“Jerry Rabb dedicated his working life to serving Imperial County and had always dreamed of becoming a journeyman lineman. He was happiest when he was climbing poles and bringing light and power to his community when it needed it the most,” said attorney Deborah Chang. “Like all IID linemen, he is a true hero, and it was our privilege to represent him and his wonderful wife, Rosa, in what turned out to be the longest trial ever tried in Department 9 (Judge Anderholt). We are truly grateful to the jurors for their verdict and public service.”
The defendants were represented at trial by Deputy Attorneys General Grayson W. Marshall III and Paul T. Hammerness.
Panish Shea & Boyle LLP has obtained numerous multimillion-dollar verdicts in catastrophic lower limb injury and motorcycle collision cases in the last several years, including $34,555,220 in January 2015 for a man who suffered a below-the-knee amputation after he was hit by the trailer of a semi-truck while standing on a Los Angeles sidewalk. In 2013, the firm also obtained a $19,466,000 jury verdict for a man and his wife after the man suffered severe crush injuries to his lower extremities when he was hit by a truck while riding his motorcycle and $17,120,662 for an 85-year-old man who suffered a leg amputation after being hit by a bus.
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