Case details

Driver’s illegal maneuver caused fatal crash: decedent’s family





Result type

Not present

burns, death, loss of consortium, loss of services
On Jan. 4, 2013, at approximately 5 p.m., plaintiffs’ decedent Plutarco Perez, 73, was driving a tractor-trailer on a two-lane rural road in Bakersfield. As he began to make a left turn at an intersection, he was involved in an accident with Andrew Mateut, who was also driving a tractor-trailer in the same direction on the same two-lane rural road. Perez’s truck became engulfed in flames during the accident. While Mateut was able to exit his truck, Perez burned to death at the scene. There were no other witnesses to the accident. The decedent’s wife (Modesta Perez) and the decedent’s sons (Martin Perez, Marco Antonio Perez, Lorenzo Perez and Cesar Perez) sued Mateut, and Mateut’s employers and/or owners of Mateut’s tractor-trailer, Roland Transport Inc. and Aquila Motor Freight Inc. The decedent’s family alleged that Mateut was negligent in the operation of his tractor-trailer and that Roland Transport and Aquila Motor Freight were vicariously liable for Mateut’s actions. Plaintiffs’ counsel contended that Mateut had tried to pass the decedent by moving into the opposite lane of traffic near an intersection before the decedent could have possibly impeded his path by making the left turn. Counsel contended that this version of events was based upon an analysis of the physical damage to the trucks, the location where they came to rest and the skid marks on the road. Thus, plaintiffs’ counsel argued that Mateut caused the crash by performing the illegal maneuver. Mateut told the investigating California Highway Patrol officer that the decedent had been parked along the shoulder near the intersection when the decedent suddenly pulled out right in front of him, forcing him to take evasive action. Thus, Mateut claimed that the decedent was the sole cause of the accident., Plutarco Perez burned to death at the accident scene. He was 73. The decedent is survived by his wife, Modesta Perez, age 70, and his four adult sons, Martin Perez, age 48; Marco Perez, age 46; Lorenzo Perez, age 44; and Cesar Perez, age 39. The decedent’s family sought recovery of wrongful death damages. The family claimed that the decedent was semi-retired and was earning only about $8,000 per year, so the bulk of damages were non-economic. The plaintiff-in-intervention, California Insurance Co., sought recovery of $233,239 in workers’ compensation death benefits that it was previously paid to the Perez family.
Superior Court of Kern County, Bakersfield, CA

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