A judge awarded $23.7 million to a man who underwent a lower leg amputation after being struck by a utility truck while riding his motorcycle in Studio City in 2017.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge J. Stephen Czuleger issued his decision Wednesday after a non-jury trial involving the claims of Steeve Rojas and his wife, Sandra A. Acevedo, against Hajoca Corp. and driver Kevin A. Henderson.
The parties agreed before trial that Henderson was negligent and that Hajoca Corp. was secondarily liable for his actions. The trial was held to determine the damages owed to Rojas and his wife.
“This result will allow Mr. Rojas and his family to move forward after this tragic collision and provides them the financial resources they need for Mr. Rojas’ medical care and future expenses,” plaintiffs’ attorney Brian Panish said. “We thank the court and staff for allowing our client to exercise his constitutional right to trial in a safe environment.”
Lawyers for Henderson and Hajoca Corp. stated in their court papers that Rojas had a “high degree of contributory negligence” and that despite seeing Henderson’s truck and knowing it was going to make a left-hand turn, Rojas continued to ride his motorcycle directly into the path of the truck.
Trial testimony showed that Rojas was driving his motorcycle south on Coldwater Canyon Avenue toward the intersection with Ventura Boulevard where he intended to make a left turn. At the same time, Henderson, an on-duty Hajoca Corp. employee, was at a complete stop in his company’s utility truck on Valleyheart Drive, waiting for southbound traffic to clear so that he could make a left turn onto northbound Coldwater Canyon.
As Rojas proceeded through the intersection of Valleyheart and Coldwater Canyon, his motorcycle was struck by the truck as Henderson attempted to make a left turn onto northbound Coldwater Canyon, testimony showed.
Despite the impact of the collision, Rojas initially maintained control of his motorcycle until he became overwhelmed with severe pain and was forced to lay his bike down on the pavement, according to his attorney.
Although he underwent numerous surgeries in an effort to save his right lower limb, eight days following the crash and after his transfer to Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, Rojas underwent a below-the-knee amputation.