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FEATURED ARTICLE

LAS VEGAS JURY AWARDS OVER $30 MILLION TO VICTIMS IN SINGLE ROLLOVER MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT


Robert W. Johnson & Associates was retained to provide economic testimony in quantifying compensatory damages and general damages.

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Case: Teresa Behena, et al. v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.

Court: Clark County District Court, Case No. A503395.

Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Albert D. Massi and Chad A. Bowers of The Law Office of Albert D. Massi, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Judge: The Honorable Sally Loehrer

Case Synopsis: The plaintiffs rented a Ford Econoline 350, 15-passenger van from Valley View Hitch and Truck Rental. The plaintiffs, who consisted of 3 adults and six minors, were going to Missouri to see a boxing event that was sanctioned by the United States Olympic Committee.

On August 14, 2006, while Ernesto Torres was operating the van on Highway SR 70 (I-70) near Moab, Utah, the left rear Goodyear tire blew out, resulting in the van going off the road surface and rolling over. Ervetina Trujillo Tapia, a 65-year-old grandmother, and Frank Enriquez, a single father with 3 children, were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. Andres Torres died in the hospital shortly after the accident. Joseph Enriquez suffered profound brain injuries, resulting in inability to communicate and permanent, total disabled.

Expert Testimony: First, Mr. Johnson was retained to calculate the compensatory damages for plaintiffs Frank Enriquez, Ervetina Trujillo Tapia, Andres Torres and Joseph Enriquez. Next, Mr. Johnson was asked to give his expert opinion as to the general damages (intangible value of life and the loss of enjoyment of life) of the case.

Beginning with Mr. Enriquez, Mr. Johnson first calculated the loss of support in wages and household services to his three surviving children. The total present value damages were $418,200. He then calculated the loss of household support that Ms. Ervetina Trujillo Tapia (a 65-year-old grandmother) would have provided to her adult children and grandchildren. The total present value damages were $428,600.

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Next, he calculated the economic support that could have been available to Andres Torres’ parents. Lastly, he calculated Joseph Enriquez’s lost earning capacity and future medical expenses. Mr. Johnson estimated the earning capacity for two possible scenarios: the earnings of a high school graduate and of someone with 1 to 3 years of college. He also included the national average fringe benefits package equal to 29.0% of his wages. This yielded a total present value lost earning capacity that ranged from $1.6 to $1.8 million.

Mr. Johnson next reviewed the life care planner’s future medical plan for Joseph Enriquez. The life care planner determined that Joseph would need home attendant care or facility care to help with his profound injuries. The present value of his future medical care ranged between $6.7 - $7.9 million. In the last part of his testimony, Mr. Johnson was asked to give his expert opinion as to the appropriate economic framework or guidelines which the loss of a person’s intangible value of life, items such as love, companionship could be estimated. He was also asked to discuss a systematic methodology for calculating a person’s loss of enjoyment of life using generally accepted methods of economic analysis.

Results: On February 5th, the jury awarded plaintiffs over $30 million from Goodyear. The jury awarded $14 million to Joseph Enriquez for his profound injuries, a total of $14 million to the families of Frank Enriquez, Torres and Trujillo and about $2.1 million to six passengers who suffered lesser injuries.

Attorney Comments: According to Plaintiffs’ attorney Chad A. Bowers, “Mr. Johnson’s testimony was paramount to our case. There were four plaintiffs in which he calculated economic damages. Each of them had unique circumstances for calculating their damages. He was able to easily explain to the jury each calculation that empowered them. You could see how the jury bonded with Mr. Johnson. It is not very common that you see that.”