Damages Trial Over 80-Year-Old’s DUI Death Gets Underway In Las Vegas
CVN screenshot of plaintiff attorney Daniel Ryan showing jurors the cars involved in the accident that killed Joseph Wolford Sr.
Las Vegas, NV – A Nevada state court jury heard opening statements Monday in a trial to determine the amount of damages owed to the seven adult children of an 80-year-old killed by a drunk driver, and the trial is being webcast gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network.
Joseph Wolford Sr. died in 2017 after defendant Luis Jimenez blew through a stop sign at nearly 80 miles-per-hour in a residential neighborhood and slammed into his vehicle. Wolford’s children filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Jimenez, who is currently serving a prison sentence for felony DUI, in 2019.
During his opening statement on behalf of the Wolford family, Daniel Ryan of The Cottle Firm explained to the jury that the court already found Jimenez liable for the accident based on pre-trial motions submitted by the parties. The ensuing trial, expected to take a week to complete, will determine the amount of damages to award the Wolford family and what degree of comparative fault to assign to Wolford and Jimenez.
Ryan argued Jimenez bears full responsibility for the accident, but Jimenez’s attorney Michael Shirts of Lewis Brisbois told jurors that Wolford supposedly rolling through his stop sign at a low speed was a partial cause of the collision.
Ryan began his opening statement by introducing the seven Wolford children and describing the life of Joseph Wolford, who he repeatedly referred to as “Dad” throughout his opening.
“Everything that this man was to this family, and everything that this man would continue to be to this family was taken away in a matter of seconds on May 22, 2017,” Ryan said, according to CVN’s webcast of the proceedings.
Ryan told jurors that Jimenez blew a .107 percent blood alcohol test after the accident, when the legal limit is .08. He said under Nevada law that allows the Wolford estate to pursue punitive damages, in addition to compensatory damages for Wolford and his children.
Wolford had a life expectancy of at least eight more years, Ryan said. He also noted that Wolford didn’t immediately die in the crash. He explained a homeowner who ran outside after hearing the crash interacted with him briefly before he died, and that Jimenez is liable for Wolford’s pain and suffering during that short time.
“The last person Joseph Wolford had to comfort him at the end of his life was a total stranger,” Ryan said, without naming a specific amount of damages he planned to seek.
In his defense opening Shirts told jurors that Jimenez made a “reckless and careless” decision to drink and drive and does not dispute his liability for the accident, but he emphasized that admission doesn’t make Jimenez the only party at fault.
“Nevada law explicitly states that more than one person may be held responsible for a single accident,” Shirts said.
He told the jury they would hear testimony from first responders and accident reconstruction experts that Shirts argued proves Wolford slowly rolled through his stop sign and was in the middle of the intersection when Jimenez collided with him.
“Mr. Wolford failed to exercise ordinary care for his own safety,” Shirts said, asking jurors to ultimately award an amount they felt to be “fair and reasonable” after hearing the evidence.
The trial is taking place before Judge Eric Johnson. CVN is covering the proceedings gavel-to-gavel as part of an ongoing commitment to filming and webcasting “real world trials” of news value to the legal, business and educational communities that CVN primarily serves but aren’t covered by other news media organizations.
The case is captioned The Estate of Joseph Wolford Sr. v. Luis Jimenez, case number A-19-792281-C, in Nevada’s Eighth Judicial District Court in Clark County.
E-mail David Siegel at firstname.lastname@example.org