Case details

Plaintiff: Company negligently entrusted tractor-trailer to driver





Result type

Not present

amnesia, brain, brain injury, bulging disc, cervical, cognition, concussion, depression, fusion, head, impairment, mental, neck, psychological, subarachnoid hemorrhage
At about 1:30 a.m. on May 2, 2008, plaintiff Marina Rivas, 47, a saleswoman, was driving on Telegraph Road in Pico Rivera, on her way home from a business trip, when she entered the intersection with Paramount Boulevard and was struck by an 18,000-pound J.B. Hunt tractor-trailer operated by Jeffrey Gaines. Rivas’ vehicle was subsequently pushed through the intersection with such force that it left the roadway and slammed into a pole. Rivas sustained a traumatic brain injury and cervical injury. Gaines, an employee of J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc., fled the scene of the accident, making no attempt to report the incident or render any type of emergency care to Rivas. He ultimately pleaded ‘no contest’ to a criminal charge of hit-and-run. Rivas sued Gaines and J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. She alleged that Gaines was negligent in the operation of his tractor-trailer and that J.B. Hunt was vicariously liable for his actions. Rivas claimed that Gaines ran a stop light on Paramount Boulevard, resulting in the crash. Her counsel introduced evidence at trial that demonstrated that Gaines had been hired and fired by J.B. Hunt twice in the past, and had held 15 different jobs in the trucking industry since 1999. Plaintiff’s counsel also noted that Gaines had a history of safety violations, including failing to report and attempting to cover up traffic accidents. As such, counsel contended that J.B. Hunt negligently entrusted its truck to Gaines. Gaines claimed that he ran the red light because of a chronic kidney problem, which caused him to black out. J.B. Hunt disputed liability for four years leading up to the trial, claiming both that Rivas was at fault for the accident and that Gaines suffered an “emergency medical condition” arising from kidney failure, which led him to blackout. Gaines was ultimately dismissed from the case during trial for a waiver of costs, and J.B. Hunt admitted liability after the first week of trial. Thus, the matter continued on the issues of and damages., Fire personnel had to extract Rivas from the wreckage and she was subsequently taken to a hospital. Rivas was diagnosed with a concussion and had soft-tissue that included a cervical strain. She also complained of having memory loss and concentration problems. She was ultimately diagnosed with a 2-millimeter cervical bulge at the C5-6 level, which required a disc replacement and fusion surgery. Several years after the accident, a brain MRI was taken, which revealed a small hole to the corpus callosum area of Rivas’ brain. Rivas claimed that she continues to suffer from serious cognitive impairments, chronic physical pain, depression and other conditions as a result of her . She has been unable to work since the accident and was required to move in with her cousin, who helps care for her financially and physically. Rivas has been actively participating in a brain injury rehabilitation program. Defense counsel admitted the reasonableness of the medical billing and lost earnings. However, counsel contended that the only issue regarding Rivas’ left to be resolved was the nature and extent of the brain injury and future medical expenses.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA

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