CVN screenshot of plaintiff attorney Daniel Ryan delivering his closing argument
Las Vegas, NV - A Nevada state court jury on Wednesday awarded $11 million to the seven adult children of an 80-year old man killed by a drunk driver who blew through a stop sign in a residential neighborhood.
The jurors returned the verdict following a relatively brief trial that began two days earlier. The trial involved only the question of the amount of damages to award to the children of Joseph Wolford Sr, after the issue of the drunk driver’s liability was resolved on summary judgment based on Luis Jiimenez’s criminal conviction for the 2017 accident.
Jimenez’s insurer, Geico, argued that while he was liable for the accident that Wolford was partially responsible due to allegedly slowly rolling through his stop sign at the intersection where the collision occurred. While the jury found Wolford was negligent, they also determined his actions did not cause the crash.
The full trial was webcast and recorded gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network.
While the jury’s award is less than the $40 million the Wolford family’s attorney Daniel Ryan of The Cottle Firm asked for, Ryan told CVN after the trial concluded that it came in the context of no settlement offer from the defense.
Ryan said the Wolford family filed their lawsuit after Geico failed to deliver a timely payout of Jimenez’s policy limit of $15 million. Ryan said he made a $3.5 settlement demand before the trial, but that Geico ignored his offer.
“It was just disregarded by them,” Ryan said, adding that Geico made “zero settlement overtures” as the trial approached.
An attorney for Jimenez did not respond to a request for comment. At trial Jimenez’s attorneys suggested jurors award the Wolford family approximately $1.16 million.
Ryan said that despite the summary judgment ruling based on Jimenez’s criminal conviction that Geico wanted do keep the comparative fault issue alive.
“So we had a sort of pseudo-liability trial even though liability had already been established,” he said.
Jimenez was represented at trial by Darrell Dennis and Michael Shirts, a managing partner and partner, respectively, at Lewis Brisbois, one of the largest defense firms in the country.
Ryan said this was his first trial going up against the huge firm, and he had complimentary words for both Dennis and Shirts for the way they handled a difficult case.
“I thought they played a straight game,” Ryan said. “I admire any defense attorney that tries a case the way the law intends and doesn’t resort to trickery or anything like that, or hitting below the belt.”
Ryan said the Wolford family is “extremely pleased” about the trial’s outcome.
“They were pleased with the story that was told about their father,” Ryan said. “From a personal level they were pleased and felt it gave them closure regarding the loss of their dad.”
The full trial, along with hundreds more, is available with a subscription to CVN’s online trial video library. CVN covered this trial gavel-to-gavel as part of an ongoing commitment to filming and webcasting “real world trials” of news value to the legal, business and educational communities that CVN primarily serves but aren’t covered by other news media organizations.
The case is captioned The Estate of Joseph Wolford Sr. v. Luis Jimenez, case number A-19-792281-C, in Nevada’s Eighth Judicial District Court in Clark County.
E-mail David Siegel at firstname.lastname@example.org