$150 Million Jury Verdict for Family of Fatal Car Crash

A Los Angeles County jury entered a verdict in favor of the family who died in a fiery crash with a semi-trailer truck on Thanksgiving 2009. 

The Asam family was on its way from California to Oregon to visit relatives for the Thanksgiving weekend.  Kylie Asam, who was 9 at the time, and her 11-year-old brother, Blaine, managed to escape from the family’s SUV after it was hit from behind by the semi-trailer truck on Interstate 210.

Kylie and Blaine unfortunately saw their parents and an older brother get burned alive after the vehicle they were trapped in caught fire. 

The verdict was made up of $8.75 million to Blaine, who later committed suicide on his mother’s birthday and before the trial began.  That money would go to his sister Kylie as the intestate successor under California heirship law.

All of the verdict’s money will be placed in a trust for Kylie until she reaches the age of 18. The jury deliberated for about 3 days before finding that the truck driver, Rudolph Ortiz, was negligent for parking on the side of the freeway in the early morning darkness without the legally required  lights and emergency reflectors. 

In the lawsuit, the Asam family alleged that Ortiz pulled off the highway to sleep, but ignored the federal law requiring warnings and emergency signals. The Asam father tried to stop on the shoulder of the road where Ortiz’s semi-trailer was parked after the family SUV struck debris on the highway. 

The defendants’ attorneys argued that Ortiz stopped to take medication for a severe headache, which constituted an emergency.  In addition, it was maintained that no law was broken because the tractor trailer was parked on the dirt to the right of the shoulder. Highway patrol officers found no debris on the road, although there was evidence on the SUV’s tires that the vehicle hit something on the roadway.

Although the jury found that Asam’s father might have been negligent as well, his actions were not a factor in determining the jury’s decision about the family’s deaths. Kylie Asam now lives with an aunt and uncle in Orange County, Calif.

Asam v. Rudolph Ortiz and Bhandal Brothers Trucking, (Los Angeles Superior Court).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling automobile crashes and truck accidents for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 37 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Buffalo Grove, Palatine, Des Plaines, Glenview, Chicago (Edison Park, Ravenswood, Sauganash, North Park, Irving Park), Franklin Park, Berkeley, Elmhurst, Brookfield and Darien, Ill.

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