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Law Offices of Brian Brandt

Jury Awards Orange County Truck Accident Lawyer’s Client $150 Million

Posted on Nov 09, 2013

On Friday, October 25, 2013, Orange County truck accident lawyer Brian Brandt won a landmark case for his 13-year-old client. The jury awarded over $150 million to Kylie Asam, who watched as her family burned to death in a car fire in 2009.

At 5 a.m. on November 22, 2009, Michael Asam, 41, from Riverside, was driving in a GMC Yukon with his family, including his wife, Shannon, 40, and their three children; Brennan, 14; Blaine, 11; and Kylie, 9. The Asams were heading to Oregon to visit family, and they were traveling on Interstate 210, pulling a trailer, when the trailer ran over debris and blew a tire. Michael attempted to pull the vehicle onto the shoulder to make an emergency stop when their Yukon crashed into the back of an 18-wheeler, driven by Rudolph Ortiz, 73. The big-rig was parked on the side of the freeway. Ortiz, who was driving for Watsonville-based Bhandal Brothers Trucking Inc., had not turned on his lights or put out any reflectors when he stopped the truck.

The Yukon became lodged under the truck and caught fire; only Blaine and Kylie managed to escape. With the help of a motorist, the children tried to pull their mother from the burning vehicle, but were unable to save her. Kylie and Blaine watched as their parents and brother, Brennan, burned to death.

Attorney Brian Brandt, as lead counsel, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver and trucking company, including a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress as Kylie witnessed her family perish in the fire. Specifically, the lawsuit alleged that Ortiz was negligent when he pulled over to the side of the freeway to sleep and ignored written warning signs indicating that stopping was allowed only in emergency circumstances. Sadly, before the trial started, Blaine committed suicide on June 6, 2013, the day of his mother’s birthday; Kylie then became successor-in-interest.

During the trial, the defense attorneys countered the claims by indicating that Ortiz had stopped only to take medications for his headaches, which was an emergency. Further, the defense indicated that there were no laws broken since Ortiz was not parked on the shoulder, but rather on the dirt to the right of the shoulder.

The jury came back with a verdict in favor of Kylie Asam. While the jury indicated that Michael Asam was also negligent, his negligence was not a substantial factor in the death of the Asam family members, and the jury awarded Kylie $150,750,000, which included $8.75 million on behalf of Blaine. The jury found that Ortiz was negligent for parking on the side of the interstate in the dark, without any reflectors or lights. 

According to Orange County truck accident lawyer Brian Brandt, his client is still not able to fully comprehend the nature of the verdict. All of the money will be placed in a trust until Kylie turns 18.

If you have been in a truck accident in Orange County, Upland, or Riverside, California, call the Law Offices of Brian Brandt for immediate assistance. Contact our experienced legal team at 909-932-1162 or 714-547-1900 to discuss your specific case.

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