During mediation, Beltran settled for $1 million. Before trial, Palla Rosa Farms settled for $5 million with Landeros and Perez.
Landeros sustained a severe brain injury and a badly fractured left arm that required open reduction, internal fixation with hardware implantation. She was comatose for a month with bleeding to the frontal and parietal lobes, and was also diagnosed with a diffuse axonal injury. She was hospitalized for a total of 15 months, including nine months at a brain injury rehabilitation center.
Landeros was able to return to high school, though several of her classes were special education classes. The brain injuries affected her ability to have normal function of the left side of her body, which resulted in limited use of her left hand and a dropped left foot. The brain injuries also affected her vision and her cognitive abilities, leaving her with impaired memory and judgment. She also suffered a personality change.
Landeros would need at least attendant care for the rest of her life. Perez suffered lacerations to her head, as well as slight bleeding in her brain. She was off work for six weeks.
Expert Testimony: First, Mr. Johnson had to calculate Ms. Landeros’ lost earning capacity. Mr. Johnson assumed that she would have had the earnings capacity of a high school graduate, including national average fringe benefits, for a total loss of $1,863,393. Next, Mr. Johnson had to educate the jury as to (1)the impact that future medical inflation would have on present value, (2) the low current rate of return on U.S. Government bonds, (3) the importance of setting aside the full value of damages so that taxpayers would not be stuck holding the shortfall bag. The total present value of the Life Care Plan created by Dr. Sharon Kawai was $44,166,988.
Results: The jury found for the plaintiffs and awarded $31,669,208 to Landeros and $79,386.55 to Perez, for a total verdict of $31,748,594.55. The breakdown of the award includes:
- $1,106,208 past medical expenses
- $7 million future medical expenses
- $1.1 million future lost earnings
- $1 million past pain and suffering
- $21 million future pain and suffering
- $13,000 punitive damages
- $450,000 homemaker expenses
- $40,000 past pain and suffering
- $1,400 punitive damages
- $37,987 past economic damages
The jury award is believed to be the highest ever returned by a Kern County jury. With the addition of the $5 million settlement from Palla Rosa Farms, Landeros and Perez recovered a total of $36,748,594.55.
Attorney’s Comments: “Mr. Johnson’s presentation to the jury was credible, understandable and empowering. They got each of his points and totally disregarded the defense economist’s evaluation.The jury’s decision will go a long way in getting out the message to people who choose to endanger our community by drinking and driving. If you choose to drink and drive, you better be ready to be held accountable for your bad choices by a jury of your peers!”