CVN screenshot of plaintiff attorney Garo Mardirossian delivering his closing argument. Click here to see video from the trial.
Los Angeles, CA - A California state court jury awarded $21.6 million on Wednesday to the parents of a teenager struck and killed on her bike in a crosswalk by a metro bus.
Plaintiffs Barry and Rose Smith sued transportation services contractor MV Transportation Inc. in 2017 following the death of their daughter Ciara, blaming the bus driver’s and company’s supposed negligence for the fatal collision.
The jury found MV Transportation 75 percent negligent, while assigning 10 percent liability to the California Department of Transportation and 15 percent to the City of Redondo Beach, both of whom settled out of the case before the trial.
While that apportionment reduces the Smith’s percentage of the verdict to $16.2 million, their attorney Garo Mardirossian told Courtroom View Network after the trial that settlements of $4.9 million each with the state and city plus interest and costs will push the total actual award to $32.1 million.
Mardirossian also told CVN the jury’s award surpasses MV Transportation’s highest settlement offer of $4.9 million.
Defense attorney David Poole of Poole Shaffery, who represented MV Transportation, did not respond to a request for comment.
During the trial the company disputed allegations that they failed to properly train the bus driver to operate a large vehicle in a space potentially hazardous to cyclists. They also blamed the city and state for failing to supposedly maintain the intersection in a safe condition, citing factors like faded crosswalk markings.
The full trial, which took place before Judge Stephen Czuleger, was recorded gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network.
Mardirossian made extensive use during the trial of a massive three-dimensional, 20-foot model recreating the accident scene, complete with cameras to give jurors a street-level view as he manipulated models of the bus and the and the bicycle.
Mardirossian told CVN the model, which spanned nearly the entire well of Judge Czuleger’s courtroom, played a “significant role in the factfinder‘s ability to appreciate the different moving parts in this tragic incident.”
Camera footage from three separate locations showing the accident also played a key role in swaying the jury, Mardirossian said, along with testimony from other witnesses present at the scene.
The jury’s decision not to assign any liability to Ciara herself provided her parents with the closure they sought, according to Mardirossian.
“The most important thing for the parents of this 14-year-old precocious girl was to have a jury decide whether their daughter did anything wrong to cause her death,” he said.
Gavel-to-gavel video of the full trial is available with a subscription to CVN's online trial video library, along with hundreds more civil trials featuring top attorneys from throughout California and the rest of the country.
The case is captioned Barry Smith, etc., et al. v. State of California, et al, case number BC680763, in the Superior Court of California in Los Angeles County.
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