LA Jury Awards $36.25M To Family Of Motorcyclist Killed By Truck, Beating Insurer’s $2M Settlement Offer

Posted by David Siegel on Sep 27, 2022 12:37:41 AM

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CVN screenshot of plaintiff attorney Arash Homampour delivering his closing argument

Los Angeles, CA - A California state court jury has awarded $36.25 million to the parents of a motorcyclist who died after colliding with a pickup truck attempting to make a left turn out of a driveway across traffic.

The jury returned their verdict on September 16 after two days of deliberations in a trial that began on August 29. They awarded $18,125,000 each to Hortencia and Salvador Andrade, the parents of David Andrade, who died in 2018 at the age of 26. 

After the trial concluded, plaintiffs' attorney Arash Homampour of The Homampour Law Firm told Courtroom View Network the jury’s award surpassed the defense’s most recent settlement offer of $2 million, which they reduced from an initial offer of $4 million. 

He said the plaintiffs made repeated attempts to settle within the defendant’s insurance policy limits of $10 million but were rebuffed by The Hartford Insurance Company. Costs and interest could add an initial $8.7 million to the actual award amount, Homampour added. 

Hartford attorney Ruth Kahn, who represented defendant Luis Tapia, did not respond to a request for comment from CVN.

Homampour told jurors during his closing that the case boiled down to a clear-cut instance of the defendant, Luis Tapia, failing to pay sufficient attention before slowly edging his truck out of the driveway into the road.

However Kahn argued Andrade bore responsibility for the accident, suggesting he was speeding at the time and citing small traces of methamphetamine detected in his bloodstream.

While the jury did find Andrade was negligent, they also determined his actions were not a substantial factor in causing his death.

The trial’s opening and closing statements were recorded gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network, and they can be viewed with a subscription to CVN’s online trial video library, which includes hundreds of civil trials in a wide range of practice areas featuring many of the top plaintiff and defense trial attorneys in the United States.


During his closing argument, Homampour lamented to the jury that the trial took as long as it did to complete, suggesting the extensive testimony from expert witnesses retained by the defense claiming Tapia couldn’t see Andrade’s oncoming motorcycle was not necessary.

“Mr. Andrade has the right of way, he had the right to rely on the good conduct of Mr. Tapia, and Mr. Tapia cut him off. That’s the case. That’s it, it’s over,” Homampour argued. “This should have been done in a day and then we consider damages.”

Homampour suggested that forensic accident reconstruction efforts and Tapia’s own testimony showed he should have both seen and heard Andrade’s motorcycle, and that from Tapia’s vantage point he had 20 seconds of visibility to make note of the oncoming bike.

“Is he distracted because he’s daydreaming? Is he distracted because of his phone? I don’t know he hasn’t admitted it,” Homampour said. “But a reasonable inference just looking at how he rolls through this intersection tells you that he’s not paying attention.”

Homampour pushed back vigorously on the claims related to methamphetamine use, telling jurors that none of the defense’s expert witnesses suggested the minute amounts of the drug found in his system would have impaired his driving.

During her closing argument on behalf of the defendant, Kahn argued that Andrade was responsible for the accident and that Tapia, who she repeatedly claimed did not have time to react to the oncoming motorcycle, did not act recklessly.

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CVN screenshot of defense attorney Ruth Kahn delivering her closing argument

“The evidence shows his conduct was reasonable under the circumstances,” she told the jury.

She said surveillance video of the accident showed Tapia had his left turn signal on, and that his one-mile-per-hour exit from the driveway shows he was attempting to look for any oncoming vehicles.

“He went out slowly and cautiously to make sure the coast was clear,” Kahn said. “If the motorcycle was visible to him, then he was visible to the motorcycle.”

The trial took place before Judge Mark Borenstein.

The case is captioned Hortencia Andrade, et al. v. Norman S. Wright Climatec Mechanical, et al., case number 19STCV10659, in the Superior Court of California for Los Angeles County.

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Topics: Transportation, California