$10.75 Million Jury Verdict for Death of Teen Struck and Killed By Truck

Noemi Mendez, 15, was walking home from school with her older brother Elias.  As they were crossing the street in the crosswalk, the driver of a tractor-trailer truck began turning right into that intersection. The truck hit Noemi and the trailer’s rear wheels rolled over her. She died at the scene. Noemi is survived by her brother Elias, an older sister and her parents. In addition to the death of Noemi, her brother Elias, who was 18 at the time, suffered severe emotional distress due to witnessing his sister’s fatal injury.

Noemi’s family sued the truck driver and the trucking company, alleging that the driver was negligent and chose not to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk. The Mendez family asserted that Noemi and Elias entered the intersection on a green light with a pedestrian “walk” signal and that they were already well into the intersection when the truck struck Noemi.

The parties had stipulated that the truck driver was in the scope and course of his employment. The parties presented a surveillance video recorded by a corner convenience store that captured some of the events at a distance. Although the video was of poor quality, the Mendez family maintained that it showed that Noemi and her brother were at the intersection at least 30 seconds before the truck arrived in the intersection.

The defendants, the truck driver and the truck company, cited the police report, which concluded that Noemi was at fault based on an eyewitness statement that the pedestrian signal was red and that Noemi was on her cell phone. The truck driver testified that before entering the intersection, he saw Noemi looking toward him and talking on her cell phone.  The truck driver claimed that because he saw a red blinking pedestrian light, he noted that Noemi and Elias had stopped at the corner and then believed it was safe to begin turning.

The Mendez family countered with the testimony from Elias, who stated that he and his sister had entered the intersection on a green pedestrian “walk” sign.

At the jury trial, it was found that the truck driver was 100% at fault and the jury signed a verdict for $10.75 million. The jury verdict included $4 million for Elias for negligent infliction of emotional distress and $3.5 million to Noemi’s mother and $3.25 million to her father for the wrongful death.

The attorneys who successfully handled this tragic case were Michael Alder, Laura F. Sedrish and Mike Kazerouni.

At the trial, the Mendez family presented experts in trucking industry practices, accident reconstruction and human factors.

The defense presented experts in trucking industry practices accident reconstruction and human factors as well.

Mendez v. City of San Diego, No. 37-2014-00037263-CU-PA-CTL (Cal.Super. Ct. San Diego County).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling catastrophic injury cases, truck accident cases, auto crash cases and wrongful death cases for individuals, families and the loved ones who have been injured, harmed or killed by the negligence of another for more than 40 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Melrose Park, Naperville, Joliet, Aurora, Hinsdale, North Chicago, Gurnee, Crystal Lake, Grayslake, Flossmoor, Long Grove, Chicago (Lake Calumet, Hegewisch, South Shore, Kenwood, Hyde Park, Chinatown, West Loop, South Loop, Englewood, Austin), Tinley Park and Arlington Heights, Ill.

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