LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A Los Angeles Superior Court jury has awarded Marina Rivas over $20 million in the big-rig truck crash that left her catastrophically injured. Ms. Rivas was represented at the three week trial by Panish Shea & Boyle LLP attorneys Brian Panish and Spencer Lucas. A J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc. truck driver ran a red light, hit Ms. Rivas’ car and then fled from the scene of the accident, leaving Ms. Rivas severely injured.
On May 2, 2008, 47-year-old Marina Rivas was driving home from a business trip when she was hit by an 18,000 pound tractor-trailer driven by a J.B. Hunt employee who ran a red light in Pico Rivera, California. The impact destroyed the driver’s side of Ms. Rivas’ vehicle and the car was pushed through the intersection with such force that it left the roadway and slammed into a pole. Ms. Rivas had to be extracted from the wreckage by fire personnel. The J.B. Hunt driver fled the scene of the accident, making no attempt to report the incident or to render any type of emergency care to Ms. Rivas. The driver pled no contest to a criminal charge of hit and run.
After being extracted from her vehicle, Ms. Rivas was taken to the hospital where her diagnoses included subarachnoid hemorrhage, concussion, and retrograde amnesia. She continues to suffer from serious cognitive impairments, chronic physical pain, depression, and other conditions as a result of her injuries. Ms. Rivas has been unable to work since the accident and was required to move in with her cousin who helps care for her financially and physically.
J.B. Hunt disputed liability for four years leading up to the trial, claiming both that Ms. Rivas was at fault for the accident and that the truck driver suffered an “emergency medical condition” arising from kidney failure which led him to blackout. Ultimately, Panish Shea & Boyle LLP attorneys disproved both of these defenses, and J.B. Hunt admitted liability after the first week of trial. Evidence at trial also demonstrated that the truck driver had been hired and fired by J.B. Hunt twice in the past and had held 15 different jobs in the trucking industry since 1999. He had a history of safety violations, including failing to report and attempting to cover up traffic accidents.
J.B. Hunt, a publicly traded company (ticker symbol JBHT) offered only $2,000,000 to settle the case during trial. The jury returned a total award of $20,011,798.17. The jury’s award includes over $7,000,000 for Ms. Rivas’ future medical expenses and $12,000,000 for her past and future pain and suffering.
Ms. Rivas has been actively participating in a brain injury rehabilitation program, where she hopes to be able to continue her recovery with the proceeds from the verdict.
Trial counsel Brian Panish stated: “The award will help Ms. Rivas to lead the best life she can under the circumstances. It is unfortunate that it took over 4 years and a full trial to get to this point. We are hopeful that J.B. Hunt will do the right thing and accept the jury’s verdict so that Ms. Rivas can start to move on with her life.”
Marina Rivas v. Jeffrey Gaines and J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc.
Case No. BC436965
Superior Court of the State of California, Los Angeles County
The Hon. Rolf M. Treu, presiding