On 2/27/14 our client's father (age 65) was walking alongside Montgomery Drive in Santa Rosa en route to Spring Lake Park. He was the divorced father of a 17 year old son who spent about 60% of time with his father. The defendant, a local realtor, was operating his Mercedes eastbound on Montgomery. An eyewitness saw the defendant operating his car with both right tires about a foot to the right of the fog line immediately prior to the incident. Another witness saw a white Mercedes driving fast and recklessly in the direction of the scene of the incident.
The defendant's Mercedes hit our client's father, throwing him up against the right A-pillar causing a serious head injury. This was a hit and run collision. The defendant testified that he did not think he hit anything and, in fact, may have hit a root or maybe a deer. Our client's father was found in a juniper bush about 6 feet off the roadway. A passing motorist, also a paramedic, came to his aid and found a pulse and witnessed several agonal breaths before our client's father died at the scene.
Meanwhile, other witnesses saw the defendant beyond the accident scene. One saw him coming out of a plume of dust in a turnout just beyond the accident scene and watched him swerve all over the roadway to regain control. Another was stopped at a stop sign waiting to turn onto Montgomery Drive when the defendant's car made a fast and wide right turn narrowly missing the witness' car.
The defendant drove home, where he remained for two days before turning himself into the police. He testified that the morning after the incident he realized that he was responsible for the incident when he retrieved his morning newspaper and it was the front cover story. Nevertheless, instead of turning himself in, he called a criminal lawyer and they did not call the police until two days after our client's father's death. In the meantime, the Santa Rosa police were engaged in a manhunt for the person who killed our client's father and fled the scene.
The defendant has consistently denied to the police and under oath in the lawsuit that he was drinking alcohol. However, he sought alcohol rehabilitation in Napa County at Duffy's several years prior to the incident. He testified that he was not an alcoholic and had no alcohol problems in the past.
On the day of the incident the defendant admitted "I'm drinking" in a text to a female co-worker only one hour before he killed Mr. Black. At his deposition, he explained that he meant he had been drinking during the last two months.
The defendant pled no contest to felony hit and run, and received a three month jail sentence. He avoided charges of driving under the influence.
Damages: The death of a 65 year old father suffered by a 17 year old adopted son.
Settlement: The case settled for $5,000,000.