Steve S. v. City of Sacramento, et al.,
Motor Vehicle Collision: Wrongful death of 9- month-old infant
Record settlement of $9.75 million obtained in trial
Attorney John Demas represented the parents of Raiden S., a 9-month-old baby that was killed in a motor vehicle collision involving a police officer for the City of Sacramento, obtaining the largest wrongful death settlement involving an infant in California.
The case arose from a collision that occurred on December 17, 2013. At that time, the defendant, a police officer employed by the City of Sacramento, was driving an unmarked car westbound on Interstate 80 near the Highway 65 exit. Traffic on Interstate 80 slowed to a complete stop. For unknown reasons, the defendant failed to see that traffic in front of was stopped and rear-ended a vehicle driven by Steve S. at a speed of nearly 65 miles an hour. Nine-month old Raiden S. was properly secured in an infant car seat in the back seat of the S’s vehicle. The initial impact from the defendant’s vehicle was devastating. It pushed Steve’s car forward and to the left, where it was struck by a big-rig and propelled into another car. When his car finally came to rest, Steve S. immediately tended to his son. The impact was so severe that the rear seat had been pushed forward and Raiden’s car seat was stuck between the rear and front seats. A retired paramedic assisted Steve and helped cut the seat belt, freeing the car seat and Raiden. Emergency aid was rendered to Raiden at the scene and he was rushed to the hospital. Raiden fought valiantly for five days until he succumbed to his injuries.
The family retained John Demas to help them navigate the legal process and seek justice for Raiden. Mr. Demas immediately retained one of the best accident reconstruction experts in California and an investigator to start gathering evidence. Meanwhile, the CHP was conducting its own investigation and ultimately determined the police officer was the sole cause of the collision. Despite the CHP recommending that criminal charges be filed against the police officer, the District Attorney declined to pursue any charges and the family was forced to turn to the civil justice system.
Attorney John Demas filed a civil lawsuit against the City of Sacramento and the police officer in the effort to gain justice for baby Raiden. The City fought the case aggressively for three years and denied that the police officer was on the clock at the time of the collision. Ultimately, John Demas proved the City was legally responsible for the actions of its police officer.
During the course of the case John Demas continued to assemble an all-star team of expert witnesses including psychologists, doctors, and computer animation experts that prepared an animation of the entire collision. After multiple unsuccessful settlement discussions, the case headed to trial. As the trial date approached, numerous focus groups were held to further refine and test arguments and the evidence. Once trial started, the parties began discussing a resolution. The case ultimately settled on the second day of trial for $9.75 million.
It was an honor and privilege to represent this family. Baby Raiden was an inspiration for all of us at Demas Law Group and a reminder of why we all have a deep desire to help those in need. Although the family’s loss was profound and permanent, the resolution of the case brought them some sense of justice and closure.