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Los Angeles trucker and his lawyers win their case against Dart International company after he suffers brain damage from faulty equipment
Accident Type:Truck Accident
Incident Date:Tuesday, July 11, 1995
Result Date:Wednesday, June 3, 1998
Independent trucker Roberto Tinajero, 52, was doing some extra work at approximately 4:45 PM on July 11, 1995 at the Marine Terminal of Heinz Pet Food on Terminal Island in Los Angeles, California. He was driving a 1984 Ford tractor trailer with a modified fifth wheel to allow rapid connections and disconnections of the chassis. He forgot to disconnect one of two air hoses and drove away. The hose and metal fitting separated from the parked trailer, which forcefully recoiled through the unguarded rear window, striking him in the head. Tinajero subsequently suffered a depressed skull fracture, inflicting mild to moderate brain damage. Roberto Tinajero decided to sue the company that constructed the truck, Dart International, for personal injury. He and his lawyers argued that the truck was defective because it lacked a rear-window barrier guard. They argued that the company was responsible for the defective product as they negligently manufactured this unsafe equipment and did not take steps to add the necessary safety equipment. They further clamed that Heinz Pet Food negligently allowed the unsafe truck to be used at its terminal facility in violation of customs in the industry. The companies' lawyers argued against Tinajero, coldly claiming that the product which injured him was not defective because he was involved in an accident that was "not forseeable." In addition, they contended that they were not responsible because of the truck's modification, which they did not manufacture or install. They discounted their responsibility, stating that the sole cause of Tinajero's serious accident was his own negligence. In the end, the jury sided with Tinajero and his lawyers, awarding him $1,197,885. This amount was reduced to $898,414, however, as he was found 25% liable. This amount was composed of $56,000 of medical expenses, $150,000 of lost income, and $650,000 lost earning capacity.