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Family Awarded $2 Million in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The Matiasic Firm represented the family of a woman who was killed in a motorcycle accident on Highway 41 in July of 2008. Suzanna V. Coronado, 31, was riding with her husband, Michael Coronado, near the intersection of Highway 41 and Road 416 when a GMC Envoy towing a vehicle on a trailer, driven by Alexander Huerta, pulled out from Road 416 onto Highway 41, completely obstructing the lane in which Michael Coronado was driving. This caused the motorcycle to go down as Michael navigated around a downhill curve, ultimately claiming the life of Suzanna.

Michael, who survived the accident, along with his and Suzanna’s four children filed a wrongful death claim against the State of California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) for negligent road conditions. In the suit, Attorney Paul A. Matiasic of The Matiasic Firm, who served as the Coronados’ lawyer, alleged that Caltrans had knowledge of the dangerous conditions at that particular intersection. In fact, investigations during the case revealed that Caltrans was aware of the significant number of accidents at the intersection, yet did nothing about it until 2009, one year after Suzanna Coronado’s death.

Although Caltrans claimed that the intersection was not dangerous prior to its 2009 safety improvements, Attorney Matiasic argued that Caltrans’ lack of action up to this point was unreasonable. Ultimately, the jury agreed. After a four-week trial before Judge James Oakley in Madera County Superior Court, Michael Coronado was unanimously found not guilty of negligence, whereas Alexander Huerta, the driver of the GMC Envoy, was found partially at-fault and Caltrans was found to be negligent. The jury’s verdict of just over $2 million is one of the largest verdicts ever in Madera County for personal injury or wrongful death.

The Coronado family suffered an immeasurable loss and we are gratified by the jury's finding that the intersection was dangerous and was a substantial factor in causing this accident, said Attorney Matiasic.