AUTO v. TRUCK
CASE: Valencia, et al v. Jesmar Construction, et al.
BC 331693/DATE: Los Angeles Superior Court - Central February 1,
JUDGE: Haley J. Frumholz, Dept. 20
ATTORNEYS: Plaintiffs - Michael H. Whitehill (Kussman &
Whitehill, Los Angeles)
Defendant - Jay McClaugherty, Leslie Ann Keidel,
(McClaugherty, Mulder & Keidel) for Jesmar Construction and Jesus
- Christopher Wesiersky, (Wesierski & Zurek
- Irvine) for Patrick Biggins
- Steven Joffe, (Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz,
Edelman & Dicker - Los Angeles) for Albert Ramirez
FACTS: Plaintiff Maria Valencia was driving on the I-5 Freeway
in Orange County with her mother, decedent, Gilda Valencia, who
was riding in the front passenger seat. Defendant Jesus
Hernandez, while driving a dump truck within the course and scope
of his employment for Jesmar Construction, locked up his brakes
to avoid hitting a vehicle which had stopped in front of him.
The dump truck swerved into the next lane where it hit co-
Defendant Biggins’ vehicle which in turn hit co-Defendant
Ramirez. Ramirez’s truck then collided with Plaintiff’s vehicle.
Plaintiffs’ decedent, Gilda Valencia, was killed in the accident
and Plaintiff Marie Valencia suffered a broken nose and facial
PLAINTIFFS’ CONTENTIONS: Plaintiffs contended that Hernandez was
responsible for the accident for traveling at an unsafe speed and
making an unsafe lane change. In addition, it was contended that
the Jesmar Construction vehicle was not properly maintained in
that the brakes were not operating properly and the vehicle was
overloaded at the time of the accident. Plaintiffs also
contended that Biggins and Ramirez could have been more careful
in avoiding the Jesmar dump truck once it lost control.
DEFENDANTS’ CONTENTION: Defendant Hernandez contended that
another vehicle abruptly turned into his lane and then slammed on
its brakes forcing Hernandez to violently apply his brakes.
Defendants Biggins and Ramirez contended they were innocent
victims of the accident and in fact brought their own personal
injury claims against Jesmar Construction. Hernandez and Jesmar
contended that Plaintiff Maria Valencia was speeding and could
have avoided the accident.
INJURIES: The wrongful death of a 56 year old wife and mother of
three adult children, as well as the personal injury and
emotional distress claim of Plaintiff Marie Valencia.
SETTLEMENT DISCUSSIONS: Defendants Biggins and Ramirez agreed to
pay the Valencia plaintiffs $50,000 apiece for a total of
$100,000. Defendants Hernandez and Jesmar Construction had a
combined single limits $1,000,000 policy issued by Allstate.
There were other claimants besides Plaintiffs to the policy and
Plaintiffs made a settlement demand of $950,000 approximately 7
months after the accident. The settlement offer was rejected.
Four months later, a mediation was held before Troy Roe. All
claimants to the $1,000,000 Allstate policy issued to Jesmar,
other than Plaintiffs, agreed to accept an aggregate payment of
$50,000 from Allstate to release all claims. Plaintiffs,
Allstate and Defendants Jesmar and Hernandez agreed to a
stipulated judgment on behalf of plaintiffs against Defendants
Jesmar Construction and Hernandez for $2,950,000. Allstate
agreed to immediately pay $950,000 in partial satisfaction of the
judgment. Jesmar and Hernandez assigned to Plaintiffs their
rights against Allstate to collect on the remaining $2 million
dollar unpaid portion of the judgment.