SAN MATEO, Calif., June 28, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- The County of San Mateo and utility giant PG&E have agreed to the largest pretrial personal injury settlement for a single plaintiff in California history.
Attorney Tim Tietjen with the San Francisco law firm Rouda Feder Tietjen & McGuinn secured the $47.5 million settlement this month on behalf of a young man who suffered catastrophic injuries when a tree fell on his tent.
It happened in the summer of 2012, when then-12-year-old Zachary R. went camping with his family in a designated campground in San Mateo County Memorial Park. In the early morning, a rotten 72-foot-tall Tanoak tree crashed down on Zachary's tent crushing him while he slept.
Due to the severe crush injuries to Zachary's pelvis, doctors determined that the only way for Zachary to survive was to perform the most extreme lower-limb amputation—a hemipelvectomy, also known as a hindquarter amputation. Not only would Zachary lose his right leg, but his right pelvis and buttock as well. Zachary underwent over 30 surgeries and initially spent over six months hospitalized.
Zachary sued San Mateo County, alleging a dangerous condition of public property, and PG&E and its vegetation-management contractor WECI for negligence, in failing to maintain the area around its power lines in a safe condition. The lawsuit also alleged negligence against contractor Davey Tree, who the County had hired in 2007 to inspect its campsites for hazardous trees.
Every defendant requested that the court dismiss Zachary's case without trial. Zachary's lawyers vigorously opposed all four motions, and defeated them all. Two defendants—the County and PG&E—took their arguments to the Court of Appeal. In two published opinions, the Court ruled neither the County nor PG&E were immune from suit. These two Appellate cases have established groundbreaking decisions protecting recreational users and consumers.
"This case has enormous implications for the public and PG&E, or other real estate owners," said plaintiff attorney Tim Tietjen. "This hard fought victory on behalf of our client will help improve safety throughout California's campgrounds and public spaces," added Tietjen.
The County and its contractor Davey Tree agreed to pay $30 million to settle the case. The plaintiff settled with PG&E and its contractor WECI for $17.5 million, with WECI and its insurers paying the entire sum.
Rouda Feder Tietjen & McGuinn is a leading plaintiffs' law firm that has built a national reputation as a passionate advocate for the catastrophically injured. The firm's lawyers represent clients in a wide variety of personal injury cases, including car, truck and bike accidents and wrongful death, product liability, and premises liability lawsuits.
Link to documents & photos:
SOURCE Rouda Feder Tietjen & McGuinn