In California, the children of a couple who tragically died in a car accident are taking a long-haul truck driver and the trucking company Abbotsford to court, demanding a $10 million compensation.
Ernest Landwehr, 54, and his wife, Nancy Robles Landwehr, 46, lost their lives on a California highway near the Oregon border on June 28, 2021. The Landwehrs were traveling in a Mazda sedan from their home in Yuma, Arizona, to Klamath Falls, Oregon, when a Honda driven by Melissa Molina veered into their lane and collided head-on with them.
Some bystanders stopped to help, but minutes later, a trailer truck driven by Harjot Singh, then 23 years old, crashed into both vehicles.
A report in the Klamath Falls Herald and News indicated that Singh was initially charged with vehicular manslaughter, multiple charges of driving under the influence with injuries, and had a blood alcohol level of 0.15, over four times the legal limit for commercial truck drivers in the U.S. Most of the charges were later dropped, and Singh pleaded guilty to one count of driving under the influence with injuries.
Victoria (Vicki Anne) Landwehr, Ernest's daughter, is the plaintiff representing the couple's estate in the lawsuit filed in the California Superior Court. The lawsuit seeks compensation for the "loss of love, care, comfort, and companionship" of the couple, according to the claim filed in Siskiyou County.
The lawsuit also requests "economic and noneconomic damages" and points out that the surviving children include Nancy's two sons, Manuel and Emiliano Guerena.
The defendants are Singh, the company Bill's Trucking (Singh's employer), and Molina.
The lawsuit alleges that the defendants are responsible for the accident due to general negligence.
The plaintiff claims that "Molina and Singh were driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, which impaired their ability to safely operate their vehicles."
Bill's Trucking was included as a defendant because it had "failed to educate, train, or enforce its own operational policies" and "knew or should have known that Singh was not familiar with safe driving operations," according to the lawsuit.
Bill's Trucking operates in the U.S. and Canada, and Singh had been working in the U.S. longer than allowed by his work visa, the lawsuit claims.
The company's owner, Bill Buttar, said in an interview that Singh pleaded guilty to one count and was deported to India after serving part of his sentence because his visa was no longer valid.
Buttar said the accident is still under investigation, but he understood that the Landwehrs may have died from the initial impact.
ICBC is handling the defense of the lawsuit, Buttar said.
Tom Petersen, the Landwehr family's lawyer, will travel to the Vancouver area later this fall to conduct interviews for the case, according to a representative of the lawyer who said in an email.
The email stated that the children are demanding $10 million, which includes compensatory damages for direct losses and punitive damages, which are not intended to reimburse but to punish the defendant. Punitive damages are smaller amounts and less common in Canadian courts than in American courts.
Under ICBC's current no-fault system, a dependent of someone who dies in an accident receives $34,670 to $65,381, depending on the age. A dependent with a disability is entitled to an additional payment of $31,935, according to B.C.'s insurer.
Non-dependent children of the deceased could receive a payment of $16,256. And surviving spouses are entitled to a minimum payment of $72,995. The family is also entitled to nearly $10,000 for funeral expenses and over $4,000 each for grief counseling, according to icbc.com.
Petersen said in an email that "awards for damages in the U.S. are not regulated by B.C. damages law."
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Originally posted at Liga Legal® Abogados