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California court jury awards record $36.5 M verdict to married Indian couple

Indiawest.com  Riverside(California), July 09, 2012
First Published: 13:34 IST(9/7/2012) | Last Updated: 14:04 IST(9/7/2012)

A Riverside County superior court jury recently awarded a married couple from India approximately $36.5 million for injuries the woman received in an accident here in 2010 with an 18-wheel truck operated by Schneider National Carriers, Inc. that left the woman catastrophically injured as reported by Indiawest.com.


This is the largest personal injury verdict in Riverside County history, according to the couple's lawyer, Brian Panish.

At the time of the crash, Jaishree Sheth, 58, a former financial consultant, and Prakash Sheth, 64, a retired chemist, were visiting relatives in the United States and were on their way to the Orange County, California, airport to take a family vacation to Hawaii.

The Sheths were passengers in a vehicle driven by one of their US. relatives, when a big-rig owned and operated by Schneider National improperly attempted to pass the car, crossed over into the Sheth's lane and hit the vehicle, said a press release.
 
The impact of the truck caused the Sheth's vehicle to spin out of control across the freeway where it hit the median barrier and was struck by another vehicle.

Schneider National is an international $3.4 billion trucking and logistics company. At trial, Schneider National completely denied that they had any responsibility for the crash. They argued that the blame for the accident should be placed on the driver of the Sheths' vehicle.

Schneider National also argued that if Jaishree Sheth were to recover anything, she should just get a small amount because medical care in India is less expensive. The driver of the big-rig did not testify at trial in his or Schneider National's defense.

Jaishree Sheth suffered a C5-6 fracture spinal fracture and spinal cord injury in the March 26, 2010 accident. When she arrived at the hospital, she was completely paralyzed. She underwent two emergency surgeries, experienced respiratory failure and was hospitalized for two months. She still requires 24-hour attendant care.

The jury awarded the Sheths $36,482,302.56. Schneider National had offered the Sheths $250,000 before trial.

The Mumbai-based couple praised the American justice system for awarding the damages for their suffering.

The Sheths were represented at the four-week trial by Panish Shea & Boyle LLP attorneys Brian Panish, Tom Schultz and Ryan Casey.

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