Garbage Co. Should Pay $65M+ For Fatal Collision With Pedestrian In Crosswalk, Jury Told

Posted by David Siegel on Aug 11, 2021 2:12:20 PM

Espana openings

CVN screenshot of plaintiff attorney Sean Claggett delivering his opening statement

Las Vegas, NV - A Nevada state court jury heard opening statements Monday in a wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of an 11-year-old girl who was struck and killed by a garbage truck in a crosswalk. 

Jazmin Espana died in 2017 after being hit by a garbage truck operated by Republic Services, a sanitation company that operates in 41 states. Her lawsuit claims the truck’s driver failed to yield as required by Nevada law and had a lengthy history of safety violations, but Republic maintains their truck had the right of way.

The trial is being webcast gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network.

Representing the Espana family, Sean Claggett of the Claggett & Sykes Law Firm told jurors during his opening statement that Jazmin’s death was preventable.

He described how the truck’s driver, Julio Cortez-Solano, supposedly failed to yield as he made a right turn into a crosswalk being used by Jazmin and a friend.

“This truck never stopped,” Claggett said, according to CVN’s webcast of the proceedings. “It just comes up to the right, slows down enough to make the righthand turn and runs over the girl in the crosswalk, my client 11 year old Jazmin Espana.”

Claggett told jurors that Cortez-Solano had a history of traffic violations before being hired by Republic, and that he continued to rack up safety violations after being hired to the point of being terminated but then eventually rehired.

He said the company’s alleged indifference to Cortez-Solano’s troubling safety record would be one of the factors to warrant an award of unspecified punitive damages in addition to $65 million in compensatory damages for Espana’s death.

“Because of the decisions that Republic Services made, reckless decisions, to employ a dangerous driver they knew to be dangerous and who didn’t follow the safety rules, tragedy occurred on February 8, 2017 and Jazmin lost her life,” Claggett said.

Representing Republic, attorney Dave Barron began his opening statement by noting that while Cortez-Solano did have a history of safety violations during his time with the company, that they were not directly related to actually driving a truck.

Barron went on to cite deposition testimony from one of Jazmin’s friends who was with her at the time of the accident, noting that she specifically recalled making eye contact with the truck’s occupants just before it started its righthand turn.

He also described the girl’s recollection of pressing the traffic button to cross the street, which he said meant at the time they didn’t have a green light to enter the crosswalk.

Barron said the truck had the right of way, as confirmed by an adult witness who saw the accident that he said later claimed the truck did “everything by the book.” Barron insisted the truck slowed down and confirmed the crosswalk was clear before making the turn.

“When Mr. Cortez made the right turn into that intersection, that was his intersection,” Barron said.

The full trial is scheduled to take roughly two weeks to complete, and the full proceedings will be available both live and on-demand via CVN.

The case is captioned Encarnacion Espana v. Republic Silver State Disposal Inc., case number A-18-782026-C in Nevada’s 8th Judicial District Court in Clark County.

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Topics: Nevada, automotive