Though insurance companies may argue, Portland personal injury attorneys say two recent notable injury lawsuits and the awards paid to the victims are completely justified, given the extent of the injuries suffered. A total of $30 million was paid in the two cases, one in San Francisco and the other a case taken against Paramount Studios for an on-set accident during the filming of the latest “Transformers” movie.
In the first case, a garbage truck driver suffered severe spinal injuries when the front wheel of his truck collapsed, sending the 55,000-pound vehicle crashing to the ground. Raymond Mariolle, 46, had been a Waste Management Company driver for more than 20 years when the accident occurred.
Three companies knew of the fault
The accident was caused when the right front hub of the truck fractured. The break caused the wheel to fall off while Mariolle was driving near the Livermore Airport. His lawsuit named three defendants, including:
- Consolidated Metco, the company that made the defective hub
- Volvo Truck, which built the cab and chassis
- Wittke Manufacturing, the company that designed the truck
According to the lawsuit, all three defendants knew the hub was defective and unable to carry the load required, yet they failed to warn drivers or the general public.
Mariolle’s lawyers said he had suffered traumatic compression injuries in the October, 2007 accident. The claim sought damages to cover:
- Medical costs including three surgeries Mariolle had after the accident
- Pain and suffering, which persisted even after the surgeries
- Loss of marital and family relations on behalf of Mariolle’s wife, Regina
At the trial, it was reported that Mariolle had returned to work 10 months after the accident, but he was transferred to part-time and non-driving duties. Almost three years after the accident, in August, 2010, Mariolle was physically unable to continue working, according to his lawyers.
The companies’ defense
In a three-week jury trial, the companies defending the lawsuit said they were not entirely to blame for Mariolle’s pain and suffering, nor for the full extent of the injuries he’d suffered. They claimed that Mariolle had a pre-existing back condition from an earlier injury or injuries, and that these were the chief reasons for his ongoing pain and inability to work.
However, in this particular notable injury lawsuit, the jury found in Mariolle’s favor and against all three defendants. They said in their judgment that the wheel hub, the truck and the can and chassis were all defective, and had been the cause of Mariolle’s injuries. They awarded him:
- $2.4 million for lost wages and medical costs
- $7.5 million for pain and suffering
- $1.5 million to his wife, Regina, for loss of marital and family relations
Movie extra received traumatic brain injury in stunt gone wrong
Another of the most notable injury lawsuits in recent times was the case of 26-year-old Gabriela Cedillo, who was an extra in a scene of the third “Transformers” movie. Cedillo received serious injuries when a cable and metal bracket tore loose from a stunt vehicle and smashed through her windscreen, striking Cedillo in the head.
The accident happened on September 1, 2010, in Hammond, Indiana. Todd Smith, Cedillo’s attorney, said Cedillo was in her own vehicle traveling about 50 mph. She was one of about 80 extras who had been hired to shoot a scene involving what is known as a cable-pull rollover, which is a common way to flip a car with precision timing, according to a stuntman who was on set the day of the accident.
It all went terribly wrong
Smith said three trucks were towing two unoccupied vehicles that were supposed to roll over at a precise moment, but a cable and bracket on one of the trucks broke free and went straight through Cedillo’s windshield, striking her in the head. Photos taken at the scene show Cedillo’s blue Scion car with a large gash in the hood, the smashed windscreen and a grissly image of a blood-stained air bag.
Cedillo suffered horrific injuries in the accident, which Smith says was the result of a shoddy welding job. He noted that the same scene had been abandoned the day before and that Paramount Studios were more worried about budget overruns than they were about the safety of the extras on set. Among the injuries Cedillo sustained were:
- Significant brain impairment
- Damage to the right side of her head, where a metal hook tore off about a third of her skull and a portion of her brain
- Extreme memory loss
- Severe hallucinations
- Chronic cognitive difficulties
- Total loss of sight from her left eye
- Cedillo also has only very limited walking ability
Cedillo’s brother, Rudy Romo, said it’s unclear if his sister, a former bank teller who was about to buy her own home, will ever be able to return to a normal life, but for the moment, she needs 24-hour care.
Paramount Pictures and DW Studio Productions reached a settlement with Cedillo’s lawyers totalling $18.5 million. The settlement includes:
- $189,000 to cover the costs of multiple visits to Loyola University Medical Center
- $800,000 in rehabilitation and physician costs
- An additional $2.5 million, which is being sought in a worker’s compensation lawsuit against the company that hired the extras, which could bring the total value of the lawsuit to $21 million.
The awards being made in these notable injury lawsuits may seem incredibly high, but Portland personal injury attorneys ask sceptics to consider the life-changing injuries these victims have suffered, through absolutely no fault of their own. A damaged spine can lead to a lifetime of unrelenting pain and suffering, with horrible consequences for the victim and their family. Traumatic brain injuries and the loss of sight in one eye…how do you put a true price on that kind of suffering?
People receive traumatic, life-altering injuries every day of every week of every year, and all too often, it’s because of someone else’s negligence or neglect. If you or a loved one have been a victim of this kind of injury, get the help you need from a vastly experienced traumatic injury lawyer. You shouldn’t have to face the medical costs, expensive rehabilitation, or lost income from not being able to attend work, and you should also be compensated for your pain and suffering. Call a good personal injury attorney. The consultation is free, and they will help you get the compensation you and your family need and deserve.