The Largest Sonoma County Verdict Aguilar v. Caltrans (2013)

FACTS & ALLEGATIONS- On Oct. 16, 2009, plaintiffs’ decedent Maria Flores, 36, a homemaker, stopped to make a left turn from Gravenstein Highway, also known as Highway 116, onto Madrone Avenue in Cotati to pick up her sister’s children at Thomas Page Elementary School.

As she was waiting for gap in traffic so that she could make her turn, Flores was rear-ended by a vehicle operated by Gilbert Freeth. The impact pushed Flores’ Honda into the path of an 18-wheeler truck, causing the Honda to be crushed and killing Flores.

The decedent’s husband, Jaime Flores Aguilar, who was acting individually, as successor-in-interest and representative of his wife’s estate, and as guardian of their three minor children, Natalie Flores Chavez, Julia Flores Chavez, and Josue Flores Chavez, sued Freeth and the state of California. Flores Aguilar alleged that Freeth was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that the state was negligent for failing to address a dangerous condition at that intersection.

INJURIES/DAMAGES death; loss of parental guidance; loss of society-Maria Flores sustained multiple traumatic injuries when her vehicle was crushed by the tractor-trailer. As a result, she died from her injuries. She was 36. Flores is survived by her husband and three minor children, consisting of two daughters and a son.Flores’ family sought recovery of economic damages for their loss of household services, which were provided by the decedent. They also sought recovery of wrongful death damages for their loss of the descent’s love, support, guidance and comfort.

RESULT The jury awarded the plaintiffs $10,646,446, including $646,446 in economic damages and $10 million in non-economic damages.