Case details

Family: Drunken driver solely to blame for fatally striking pedestrian





Result type

Not present

conscious pain, death, multiple trauma
On May 22, 2019, plaintiffs’ decedent Shelly Rau, 45, was pushing a shopping cart along the side of Arden Way, in Sacramento. As she attempted to cross the T-intersection with Wayland Avenue, near where the curb line would have been, she was struck from behind by an eastbound vehicle operated by Dean Barbera. The incident was caught on camera, showing it from two different perspectives, as it was filmed by the dash cams of two police vehicles, which were responding to another matter in the area. One police vehicle went to Rau, while the other followed Barbera’s vehicle, which stopped a half mile away from the site of the collision. Barbera failed a sobriety test and was arrested. He was ultimately sentenced to two years in prison. Rau ultimately died at the scene. The decedent’s adult daughter, Hailey Zanetta, and two minor daughters, Josie Lynn Rau and Emmalee Jean Rau (by and through their guardian, Patricia Jensen), sued Barbera; and Barbera’s employer, Softcom Internet Communications Inc. The decedent’s family alleged that Barbera was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that Softcom Internet Communications was vicariously liable for Barbera’s actions. The decedent’s estranged spouse, Carl Rau, was named as a nominal defendant. Plaintiffs’ counsel contended that Shelly Rau was crossing in area where pedestrians were expected to cross at the subject intersection and that California Highway Patrol referred to the area as an "unmarked crosswalk." Counsel also contended that the location of the incident was by a streetlamp and that Barbera was driving a new vehicle with working headlights, so Barbera should have been able to see Rau prior to impact. Barbera’s counsel contended that Rau was walking in the right portion of the right (number two) travel lane of Arden Way, interacting in the traffic lane, and that Barbera was wearing dark clothing at night. Counsel asserted that as a result, Barbera did not see Rau and could not avoid Rau in time. Thus, Barbera’s counsel asserted that Rau should be held comparatively at fault., Attempts were made to resuscitate Rau, but she was ultimately declared dead by paramedics at the scene one hour after the collision. She was survived by her adult daughter from a previous relationship and two minor daughters with her estranged spouse. Rau’s estate sought recovery for Rau’s conscious pain and suffering during the one hour between the time of the accident and the time she was declared dead by the paramedics. Rau’s daughters sought recovery of wrongful death damages for the loss of their mother’s love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society and moral support. Defense counsel asserted that while paramedics attempted to resuscitate Rau at the scene, Rau was likely killed on impact and experienced little to no conscious pain and suffering. Counsel also asserted that Rau had previously surrendered custody of her children to her mother, Patricia Jensen, and that there was no recent evidence of contact between Rau and her children, as Rau did not have a working telephone or a permanent residence due to her life circumstances. In response, plaintiffs’ counsel contended that Rau’s children met with their mother at a fast food restaurant one year before her death and that the children sought recovery of damages for the loss of their chance to build a future relationship with their mother due to her death.
Superior Court of Sacramento County, Sacramento, CA

Recommended Experts


Get a FREE consultation for your case