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BY PHILLIP WILLIAMS/Corrrespondent
A Mount Pleasant woman represented by a Gilmer law firm has settled a personal injury lawsuit involving her husband in Titus County for $26 million, which attorneys in the case said is the largest single-party settlement in East Texas history.
Bessy Rodriguez, a former Upshur Countian, filed the suit on behalf of herself, her incapacited husband Jose Lara Sanchez and their two children in connection with an Aug. 10, 2015 two-pickup accident in Mt. Pleasant, attorneys said. The Gilmer law firm of Goudarzi and Young represented the plaintiffs in the suit, settled Sept. 22 in 276th District Court in Mt. Pleasant.
Defendants were Jonathan Cunningham, driver of a pickup which struck a pickup driven by Sanchez, and Cunningham’s employer, Troy Construction LLC.
The lawsuit alleged Cunningham, while working for Troy, negligently ran a red light at the intersection of West 16th Street and West Ferguson Road.and that the company-owned 2013 Chevrolet Silverado struck Sanchez’s 1993 Nissan pickup.
Plaintiffs said Troy was negligent for entrusting its vehicle to a driver the firm knew was incompetent or reckless, and failing to properly train Cunningham, attorneys said.
Sanchez suffered a traumatic brain injury, as well as an aortic injury. The aortic injury was surgically repaired.
In its response, the defendants had asserted that Sanchez’s injuries were proximately caused by his own “acts and/or omissions, including but not limited to not wearing his seat belt” and that they planned to “ask the fact-finder to assess proportionate responsibility among all parties,” including Sanchez.
Any damages awarded to the plaintiffs should thus be reduced, argued Dallas attorney John M. Pease, lead counsel for the defendant.
The case involved “extensive written discovery and 34 oral depositions taken all over the United States, as well as more than 20 highly contested court hearings” before the insurance company, Berkshire-Hathaway–owned by Warren Buffett–offered its $26 million insurance policy limit in response to the plaintiffs’ demand, about five weeks before a scheduled jury trial, attorney said.
Besides Pease, the defendants were represented by Dallas atttorneys D. Bowen Berry, Gary Lykins and Jonathan Spigel, and Houston attorneys Thomas Wright, Jessica Barger and Elizabeth Rivers. Pease was not immediately available for comment.