An aerial photo from a verdict report shows the area where the 2018 incident took place in Firebaugh.
Written by The Business Journal Staff
The first civil jury trial held in Fresno County Superior Court since the lifting of coronavirus restrictions resulted in a $9.3 million verdict for a truck driver severely inured in an incident in Firebaugh in 2018.
Plaintiff Daquan Jones, 24, received the damages via a verdict rendered on Tuesday after a three-week jury trial, according to a news release from Fresno law firm Miles Sears & Eanni, which represented Jones.
Jones is a Philadelphia-based, long-haul truck driver who traveled to Firebaugh to pick up a load of tomatoes along with a co-driver. They inadvertently drove onto a section of M Street that had been abandoned by the City of Firebaugh 30 years earlier that led to an unmarked dead-end street that ended at the open gate of private property owned by defendant Hiller Aircraft, a helicopter manufacturer, according to the release.
The pair attempted to turn the truck around, but encountered concrete barriers on the sides of the street that prevented it, and were “funneled” into the private Hiller property to attempt a turnaround, according to the release.
The general manager for Hiller demanded a $50 payment for turning around the private property. Jones left the truck to speak with the manager, according to the release, which resulted in a physical confrontation that caused Jones to fall to the ground.
In a panic, Jone’s co-driver tried to drive the truck away to get help, and accidentally crushed Jones under the dual rear wheels of the 80,000-pound semi-trailer.
Jones sustained catastrophic injuries that left him with a permanent loss of earning capacity. He stayed at Community Regional Medical Center for four months and an additional two months at a rehabilitation center in Philadelphia.
The jury found the City of Firebaugh 25% responsible for Jones’s damages for the concrete barricades on city property, which were placed by Hiller employees about one year before the incident and had been inspected by city code enforcement, according to the release. The jury held Hiller Aircraft 70% responsible for the injuries. No fault was place on Jones and 5% on his co-driver.
Richard C. Watters was the lead counsel representing Jones from Miles Sears & Eanni, along with Lyndsie N. Russell.