Wrongful Death Trial Against the Quikrete Companies, Inc.
Oct, 28 2002
Peterson Wrongful Death Trial Against the Quikrete Companies, Inc. Starts Today in Van Nuys Superior Court; Family Seeks Over $15 Million in Compensatory and Punitive Damages
Story Filed: Monday, October 28, 2002 10:00 AM EST
VAN NUYS, Calif., Oct 28, 2002 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- The Peterson v. The Quikrete Companies, Inc. wrongful death trial starts today at 8:30 AM in Van Nuys Superior Court (East), 6230 Sylmar Avenue, Van Nuys, CA. Judge Stanley M. Weisberg will preside. Christine Peterson, the widow of Christopher J. Peterson, and her three children, allege that Defendants' reckless disregard for the safety of all motorists on the day her husband was killed entitles her family to punitive and compensatory damages in excess of $15 million. Defendants in Case No. LC 057705 include The Quikrete Companies, Inc. (Quikrete), True Cast Concrete Products, Gibbel Brothers, Inc. and Egriseldo Hernandez. The Petersons are represented by Browne Greene with the Santa Monica, CA. law firm of Greene, Broillet, Panish & Wheeler, LLP ( www.gbpwlaw.com).
On June 8, 2001, at approximately 5:35 PM, Christopher Peterson was driving home from work in his 1998 black Honda Accord. He was traveling within the speed limit, heading northbound in the number 2 lane of the Hollywood Freeway (Highway 170) near Whitsett Avenue in Van Nuys, CA. when a 1987 Peterbilt truck and two attached trailers owned and operated by the Defendants and driven by Egriseldo Hernandez jack-knifed and swerved across three lanes of traffic. The force of the collision forced Mr. Peterson's car part way up the center divide wall and pinned the car against it, trapping him inside. Fire erupted and began to engulf the car.
Two witnesses tried to rescue Mr. Peterson by breaking the front windshield. They saw him waving frantically to them before his hair caught fire, his skin began to melt to the bone and the flames became too intense for them to continue their rescue efforts. Mr. Peterson died at the scene of thermal burns. Traffic was snarled for over seven hours that night as authorities investigated the accident, which was reported on by all the local news media outlets.
"My family has been devastated by this accident," said Christine Peterson, who had been married to the decedent for 25 years. "We found out that the tractor-trailer rig that killed my husband had been sitting in Defendants' 'boneyard' for some time without any servicing. To our horror, we learned that an official examination of the rig by the California Highway Patrol revealed worn out brake drums well beyond specifications, and at least two brakes severely out of adjustment."
"Anyone with an ounce of common sense would never have put a rig of this size, in any kind of traffic, let alone rush hour traffic," added Mrs. Peterson. "Any motorist near that rig on June 8, 2001 was a potential victim. Chris was that victim. I've lost a husband that I cherished, and my three children have lost a father that they loved and adored. Our family will never be the same again, all because the Quikrete company deliberately allowed an unsafe rig onto the public highways."
"Mrs. Peterson and her children seek punitive damages," explained Browne Greene, "because Quikrete could have avoided the consequences of this accident by keeping their rig in repair, but deliberately failed to do so. A simple pre-trip inspection would have revealed that most of the brake pads on the vehicle showed significant wear and were at their limits. The Peterson family is taking this case to trial to send a message to all drivers that they have a responsibility to maintain and operate their vehicles in a safe condition in the interests of public safety."
The Defendants have admitted liability for Plaintiffs' compensatory losses based upon their negligent conduct. The only issues in dispute at the trial will be with regard to compensatory and punitive damages.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Plaintiffs are represented by Browne Greene with the Santa Monica, CA. law firm of Greene, Broillet, Panish & Wheeler, LLP; tel: 310/567-1200. Defendants are represented by John J. Tasker with the Los Angeles, CA. law firm of Callahan McCune & Willis; tel: 310/312-1860.
CONTACT: Greene, Broillet, Panish & Wheeler, LLP
Kathy Pinckert, 310/562-0691
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