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Verdicts & Settlements

April 8, 2003

The Daily Journal

L.A. Superior Central

Topic: Personal Injury
Sub topic: Wrongful Death
Sub-sub topic: Negligence Per Se

Settlement: $1,000,000

Plaintiff - Vincent J. Bartolotta Jr., Thorsnes, Bartolotta & McGuire, San Diego
Plaintiff - Jill E. Cleary, Thorsnes, Bartolotta & McGuire, San Diego
Defendant - Tom Dias, Murchison & Cumming, Santa Ana

Facts: A Japanese resident, John Doe, was visiting the United States for the first time and rented an automobile from the defendant Doe Rent A Car to drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. At the time he rented the automobile, he purchased a $1 million additional insured liability policy offered by the Doe defendant through Continental Casualty Company that insured John Doe against claims made by third parties against him. A family friend and California resident, the decedent, agreed to ride with the plaintiff to Las Vegas. While driving on the interstate outside of Barstow, John Doe lost control of the vehicle, causing it to cross over the median and into oncoming traffic. The automobile was in a head-on collision with a semi-tractor trailer truck. The decedent died at the scene of the accident. John Doe died en route to the hospital. The driver of the semi-tractor trailer truck also sustained serious injuries, although they were not life-threatening.

Contentions: The plaintiffs contended that the Estate of John Doe and Doe Rent A Car were liable for the wrongful death of their 25-year-old daughter. Defendant Doe Rental Car Company generally denied the plaintiffs' allegations and raised the allegations of comparative negligence.

Result: The policy limits of $1 million were split between the two cases: $725,000 for the plaintiffs' lawsuit and $275,000 for the lawsuit brought by the driver of the semi-tractor trailer truck.