Case details

Family claimed fatal rollover caused by other vehicles’ crash





Result type

Not present

crush injury, death
At approximately 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 9, 2009, plaintiffs’ decedent James Walker, 46, a correctional officer, was driving on westbound State Route 60 in Moreno Valley when an accident occurred that resulted in his sport utility vehicle rolling over 3.5 times. A rear-ender also occurred between vehicles operated by Brian Murphy and Matthew Humphrey, but it was disputed whether the vehicles made contact with Walker’s SUV. Walker sustained fatal crush from the accident. The decedent’s wife, Dolores Price Walker, and their children, Krystal Walker, Eboni Walker and James Walker Jr., sued Murphy and Humphrey, as well as Murphy’s employer, C.W. Driver, and the manufacturer of the decedent’s SUV, Toyota Motor Corp. They alleged that Humphrey and Murphy were negligent in the operation of their respective vehicles, causing the decedent’s wrongful death, and that C.W. Driver was vicariously liable for Murphy’s actions since he was in the course and scope of his employment at the time of the accident. The decedent’s family originally alleged that Toyota was liable for a manufacturing defect in the decedent’s SUV. Plaintiffs’ counsel contended that the A-frame of the SUV should not have been crushed during the rollover, which caused the decedent’s death. However, the plaintiffs dismissed their action against Toyota prior to trial. At trial, plaintiffs’ counsel contended that Murphy rear-ended Humphrey on westbound SR-60, which pushed Humphrey’s vehicle into the right lane occupied by the decedent. Counsel asserted that Humphrey’s vehicle then struck the decedent’s SUV, causing it to roll over. Thus, plaintiffs’ counsel argued that Murphy was negligent for causing the rear-ender, and that Humphrey was negligent for failing to regain control of his vehicle in time to avoid striking the decedent. Murphy and Humphrey conceded that there was a rear-end collision between their two vehicles. However, they argued that Humphrey was never pushed into decedent’s lane, and that his vehicle never made contact with the decedent’s SUV. Murphy contended that right after he impacted Humphrey’s vehicle, he saw from the corner of his eye the decedent’s SUV already rolling over. Defense counsel presented eyewitness testimony from another driver on the highway, who corroborated the defendants’ account of the accident., James Walker sustained multiple traumatic and was crushed when his SUV’s roof collapsed during the rollover accident. He subsequent died from his . Walker was 46. He left behind a wife, a son and two daughters. Walker’s family sought recovery of $6.4 million in total damages. Specifically, they sought recovery of $2.4 million in present value economic damages for the loss of the decedent’s financial support, consisting of salary and benefits. They also each sought recovery of $1 million in non-economic wrongful death damages for their loss of the decedent’s care, comfort and society. Defense counsel argued that the decedent’s economic damages were more in the range of $1.2 million, and further suggested $1 million in total non-economic damages for all four plaintiffs.
Superior Court of Riverside County, Indio, CA

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