Jury returns the largest verdict for the death of a single adult child in Santa Cruz County, $511,000; defense offer, pre-trial was $150,000, and asked jury to award only $90,000.
Robert W. Johnson & Associates prepared the Life Activity Calendar that was admitted into evidence in support of the jury's $511,000 verdict. The Life Activity Calendar graphically illustrated the close family relationship between the musically gifted and scholarship-winning daughter and her emotionally devastated parents. No expert was required for the Life Activity Calendar's admission.
Location: Santa Cruz, California
Case: Gerkovich v. Guelich
Court: Santa Cruz, California, Superior Court No. 112128
Plaintiff’s Attorneys: R. Spencer Quinn, San Jose, California
Case Synopsis: Ms. Gerkovich, 19, was a passenger in a car heading to college when the defendants' vehicle, headed in the opposite direction, swerved into oncoming traffic and collided with the Gerkovich vehicle. Gerkovich died within hours. A college freshman, Gerkovich was bright and musically gifted, having been awarded both music and academic scholarships. She was a member of her high school's band that won top state honors and was sent to China. The parents were emotionally devastated by the loss of their only daughter. The parents sued for their loss of her love, care, comfort, society, etc.
Through the use of the Life Activity Calendar Checklist, the parents were able to catalog the activities they did with their daughter, including vacations, birthdays, shopping, gardening, visiting relatives, bowling, etc. This cataloging communicated the closeness of their relationship and the strength of their family values. At trial, the Life Activity Calendar was an integral part of the parents' testimony. The Calendar was admitted into evidence and there was no cross-examination of the parents' testimony on it.
Attorney Comments: "The Life Activity Calendar made a critical difference and had a significant impact on the jury. It visually focused the parents' attention and gave them strength, to testify. The family events they shared with their daughter, during a typical year in her life, were clearly displayed in the Before Death chart. This permitted a smooth, yet emotionally powerful presentation of their loss. The jury was visually shaken when the blank After Death chart was placed next to the full-color Before Death chart."
Results: The defense offered, pre-trial, $150,000, and asked the jury to award only $90,000. The jury returned a verdict of $511,000. This is the largest verdict for the death of a single adult child in Santa Cruz County, according to the Judge.