Brian Panish: Air Force captain struck by SoCal Gas truck in Hawthorne reaches $46 million settlement
An Air Force captain who nearly died after he wasstruck by a SoCalGas truck and dragged 430 feet in Hawthorne last year has reached a $46 million settlement with the utility, his attorneys said Monday.
The agreement was announced after jurors awarded Jason Lo a nearly $41.9 million verdict in his negligence lawsuit against SoCalGas and driver Dominick Consolazio, and they were set to award punitive damages, according to Panish Shea & Boyle LLP.
Consolazio suffered a seizure when he struck Lo as the captain waited for a red light on his motorcycle on Rosecrans Avenue at Hindry Avenue on the morning ofFeb. 13, 2017.
Lo became wedged underneath the front end of the pickup truck, which came to a stop at the intersection for 23 seconds, according to the lawsuit. When Consolazio regained consciousness, he dragged Lo 430 feet as he attempted to flee the accident and get on the freeway.
Witnesses got out of their cars to try to stop Consolazio before he was arrested by police.
He later pleaded no contest to felony hit-and-run causing injury and was sentenced to five years probation and community service hours, according to court records.
The lawsuit filed in March 2017 alleged Consolazio and SoCalGas should have known he was unfit to work as a driver because he suffered from epilepsy and continued to have seizures despite taking medication, including one six weeks before the collision. Supervisors also knew Consolazio went on disability leave for six months and had his drivers license suspended following a severe seizure in 2012 not long after he worked 79 hours of overtime for the company in one week, according to the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, Lo lost 40 percent of his blood and spent nearly a month in the hospital after the crash, nearly losing his leg and his life and undergoing multiple surgeries. He is disfigured and still at risk of amputation, according to the suit.
The trial in downtown Los Angeles lasted nearly a month and featured the playing of security-video that captured the incident.
In a statement, attorney Brian Panish said the winner in this case is the civil justice system, which again proved that disputes can be resolved by 12 members of the community.
The Lo family will live with this tragedy for the rest of their lives, Panish continued. The settlement reached by the parties after the jurys substantial verdict will enable this young couple to move forward, build a family and get Captain Lo the medical care he will need in the future.
SoCalGas issued a statement late Monday saying it took responsibility very early in the litigation process and admitted liability for our drivers actions because they occurred during the course and scope of his employment.
We respect the jurys role in deciding the verdict and extend our sincere condolences to Mr. Lo and his family for the injuries and hardship they have endured, the statement said.