LOS ANGELES COUNTY
NORTHWEST DISTRICT VAN NUYS
TITLE: Juan Cruz v. Hertz Corporation
TYPE: Auto/Negligent Maintenance/Stall
JUDGE: Hon. Robert Letteau
ATTORNEYS: BROWN GREENE & BRIAN J. PANISH, (Greene, O’Reilly, Broillet, Paul, Simon & Wheeler), P-Los Angeles CHARLES BENNETT & ANDY GARCIA, (Bennett, Ferry, Kistner & Garcia) , 0-Long Beach BENJAMIN CARDOZO, 0-San Marino
SPECIALS: Medical: $670,000; Future Medical: $2,000,000 Future Wage Loss: $250,000
AMOUNT: 2,500,000 and prior settlements of $1,200,000 for a total of $3,700,000
SYNOPSIS: A multi-vehicle accident occurred on the Ventura Freeway on October 12, 1985 at approximately 2:30 am. A Hertz vehicle stalled in the number five lane and was rear ended. The occupants of both vehicles exited and waited for assistance on the side of the freeway when two vehicles approached and were involved in a subsequent collision. The plaintiff, a 40 year old, male passenger in the fourth vehicle which traveled across the freeway glanced off the center divider and into the number one lane where it was struck by a fifth vehicle. The plaintiff was rear ended and became a c-4 quadriplegic.
The plaintiff contended Hertz had negligently maintained the rental vehicle. The vehicle had been in a prior accident and an improper repair had been performed. The vehicle had been rented two days before the accident and had continually stalled. The renter of the vehicle called Hertz and complained and returned the vehicle to the facility. The renter was assured the vehicle was safe to operate.
Hertz claimed five minutes elapsed between the first collision and the collision involving the Plaintiff’s vehicle. Hertz charged the driver of the Plaintiff’s vehicle and the plaintiff were intoxicated. Hertz argued the plaintiff’s vehicle rear ended the vehicle which had seen the first collision and had stopped.
Hertz claimed the plaintiff was contributorily negligent for giving the keys to his vehicle to an obviously intoxicated driver. The plaintiff would have sustained minor injuries had he been wearing his seat belt.
INJURIES/DAMAGES: The plaintiff suffered c-4 to c-5 quadriplegia resulting in complete paralysis.
(1) Joel Rosen, (Spinal cord Specialist-Northridge)
(2) Fred Lieberman, (Internal Medicine-Los Angeles)
(3) Margaret Murphy, (Nursing-Downey)
(I) Kenneth Nuddleman, (Neurologist-Irvine)
NON-MEDICAL EXPERT/WITNESS TESTIMONY:
(1) Mike James, (Accident Reconstruction-College Station TX)
(2) Peter Formuzis, (Economist-Fullerton)
(3) Robert Tarozzi, (Engineer Automotive-Carmel)
(1) George Brinton, (Economist-Los Angeles)
(2) Edward Workman, (Vocational Rehabilitation-San clemente)
(3) Marc Pryor, (Engineer Automotive-Manhattan Beach)
(4) Allen Nahum, (Biomechanics-La Jolla)
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