|VIDEO| How Sean Claggett's Closing Set Up $38.7M+ Verdict at Trial Over Child Fatally Struck by Trash Truck

Posted by Arlin Crisco on Jun 2, 2024 4:31:15 PM

A defendant company’s safety protocol often plays a key role in commercial vehicle collision cases. And at trial over the death of an 11-year-old girl struck by a garbage truck, Sean Claggett’s closing vividly highlighted a sanitation company’s safety materials and training protocol in arguing the company and its driver were responsible, setting up a blockbuster verdict. 

Jazmin Espana was fatally struck at a crosswalk by a Republic Services garbage truck making a right hand turn at an intersection. While Republic claims it had the right of way, Espana’s family claims that the truck driver failed to yield as he was required to do. 

In closings of the 10-day trial, Claggett of Claggett & Sykes, and representing Espana’s family, surrounded himself with enlarged images Republic safety materials admonishing truck drivers to watch for children.

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Those materials bore titles like “Safety for Her,” “Treat Them as if They Were Yours,” and “Look for Little LuLu.” And the covers of those colorful pamphlets, featuring cartoons of children racing around garbage trucks, served to powerfully reinforce Claggett’s argument that the truck’s driver, Julio Cortez-Solano, violated safety protocol.

“Had he just followed any of the training this doesn’t happen,” Claggett said. 

Claggett also argued Republic was negligent in its hiring, retention, and training of Cortez-Solano, who had been discharged and rehired by Republic before the collision. Claggett said Republic's failure to train Cortez-Solano in his native Spanish and its failure to schedule lighter workloads for the driver to allow him to adjust before working him into a full schedule all contributed to the crash.

This could have been stopped so far before that moment [of the crash],” Claggett told jurors.”So if anybody wants to argue that last moment just before Jazmin gets run over, remind them of all the stuff that happened and [this collision] doesn’t happen.”

Jurors ultimately handed down a $38.76 million verdict in the case, finding Cortez-Solano and Republic entities liable on claims including negligence and negligent retention. Jurors apportioned  27% of fault to Espana, with the remainder apportioned to Republic entities and Cortez-Solano, as an employee of Republic.

You can find more of this powerful argument in CVN’s Playlist Vehicle-Pedestrian Collision Trial Closings, available only to CVN subscribers. It contains video and commentary on successful closing arguments from top plaintiff and defense attorneys in cases involving collisions with pedestrians. It’s a valuable resource to study techniques in arguing these cases. 

That playlist is part of CVN’s new Playlist Library, an expert-curated repository of the trial moments and techniques you want to see. Whether you’re looking for powerful ways to frame non-economic damages in your closing argument, strong examples of openings in premises liability cases, or simply want to see openings from our biggest trials each year, CVN Playlists is your ever-growing resource of expert editor-selected video and commentary. It’s a valuable new addition to our full video library, and is available only to CVN subscribers. 

Email Arlin Crisco at

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