The husband of a California woman who was killed by a speeding cement truck without brakes recovered a $2,592,090 settlement from the cement company and equipment rental company.
San Francisco attorneys Thomas Brandi and Brian J. Malloy of The Brandi Law Firm, represented the plaintiff. Brandi is a member of The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Attorneys and Malloy is a member of The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 and NTL Top 40 under 40.
The case is Peter Callaham v. Hanford Ready-Mix, Inc., Hanford Sand and Gravel, Inc., Garston Equipment Rental, Inc., Preston Hanford III and James Ennenga, case number 34-2015-00186933 in Sacramento County Superior Court.
On Monday September 22, 2014, at about 4:12 p.m., Theresa Vargo, the wife of Peter Callaham, was making a left turn onto Rough and Ready Road across California State Route 20 in Nevada County, California.
At the same time, a 2003 Kenworth cement truck operated by James Ennenga of Hanford Ready-Mix, Inc., Hanford Sand and Gravel, Inc., and Garston Equipment Rental, Inc. came flying down the hill on State Route 20, its brakes no longer working.
According to the driver James Ennenga about one week before, the same thing happened: he was driving the same cement truck down the same hill, when the brakes stopped working. That earlier time, however, Ennenga, unable to stop the cement truck as it came down the hill, had a green light and made it through the intersection without impact.
This time, as he came down the hill without any functioning brakes, he entered the intersection on a red light and destroyed the Vargo vehicle, resulting in her death. Ms. Vargo, the longtime partner of and newly married to plaintiff Peter Callaham and mother of three.
Plaintiff Callaham brought an action for the wrongful death of his longtime partner and wife. During discovery, defendants admitted that at the time of the accident James Ennenga was driving within the course and scope of his employment with Hanford Sand and Gravel Inc. and that the negligence of defendants were the substantial contributing factors to Ms. Vargo’s death. Defendants successfully precluded the plaintiff’s claim for punitive damages as the court found there was an insufficient basis to find malice.
The total available insurance was $3 million from which funds were expended for the toxic scene clean up costs and related expenses. The matter resolved for Plaintiff Callaham for $2,592,090.73, the available policy limits after payment to the three adult children and remedial clean-up costs.