$3.6 Million Verdict Awarded
Truck Driver Struck and Killed Bicyclist
A Santa Cruz jury found James Ahlem 70% liable for the death of Jose Martinez-Sanchez and awarded his family a total of $3.6 million.
Our client Robert Simon and Thomas Conroy of the Simon Law Group representing the plaintiff had the tough task to convince a jury that Mr. Ahlem was responsible for the death of Mr. Martinez-Sanchez and not the driver of the Mustang.
On an overcast July morning in 2013, Jose Martinez-Sanchez was riding his bicycle eastbound on highway 129 near Watsonville, Ca. About 15 minutes before sunrise, Mr. Martinez-Sanchez was struck by a Ford Mustang driving at 55 mph. His body was flung from his bicycle and it collided with the windshield of the Mustang. The impact was strong enough to create a major indentation in both the windshield and the upper steel frame of the Mustang. Mr. Martinez-Sanchez ended up lying in the middle of highway 129, a road in the middle of farmland with no street lighting. A second vehicle Ford F-150 pickup truck traveling westbound at 50 to 55 mph struck and killed Mr. Martinez-Sanchez after he had already been struck by the Mustang. That driver was Mr. James Ahlem, who, along with three passengers, was on his way to go fishing that morning.
The trial involved competing expert testimony regarding the lighting. The defense expert repeatedly asserted that it was too dark out on an unlit road to expect Mr. Ahlem to stop in time. Mr. Simon exposed inconsistent testimony from Mr. Ahlem as to what he saw just before and after he struck Mr. Martinez-Sanchez. Indeed, James Ahlem was on the stand three different times and kept changing his estimate of how far away he had seen the “dark object on the road” before he struck him. Mr. Ahlem first told of how he saw the body and people on the side of the road afterwards through his rear-view mirror but when Mr. Simon asked him how he could see a body through his heavily tinted rear window on a morning where it was so allegedly dark, Mr. Ahlem changed his testimony to seeing the body and people through his side-view mirror.
The jury had to be shown a few gruesome photographs of Mr. Martinez-Sanchez after being struck twice by two different vehicles. MotionLit’s trial technician briefly projected them to give the jury some perspective of how bad this accident was. MotionLit’s technician was there throughout the trial displaying photographs and documents, as well as showing video deposition testimony. Some of this testimony was in lieu of the witness being present in the courtroom, other excerpts were shown to impeach or refresh the recollection of a witness.
Finally, the closing slides were put together by the technician including some demonstratives showing Mr. Ahlem’s line of sight as well as a persuasive jigsaw puzzle animation putting back the pieces of a photograph of Mr. Martinez-Sanchez.
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Robert T. Simon The Simon Law Group