Miles, Sears & Eanni attorney Richard Watters recently reached a $4.5 million settlement for traffic accident victims in the uninsured motor vehicle case of Marez v. Anchor Academy Charter School.
Students Evan Marez, age 13, Elias Marez, age 10, Elaine Marez, age 12, Evette Marez, age 9, Evonne Marez, age 8 and Davina Hernandez, age 12 were being driven by Iola Smith, an employee of defendant Anchor Academy Charter School (“Anchor”) in Fresno, CA when they were struck by Cameron Woods. Mr. Woods ran a stop sign at approximately 70 mph in a 35 mph zone. He was uninsured during the time of the traffic accident.
The Suburban had a maximum occupant capacity of 7 people, plus the driver, but at the time of the traffic accident contained 9 young students plus the driver. Some of the students were unbelted and some shared seat belts. As a result of the collision, at least two students – Evan Marez and Elias Marez – were ejected from the vehicle. All of the other occupants were also injured, some quite severely.
Evan Marez suffered fractures to the face, head and right scapula, a carotid artery dissection and subdural hematoma. Elias Marez suffered a cortical contusion, hemorrhage of brain, cerebral hemorrhage, multiple facial fractures, bilateral pulmonary contusion, and a fractured clavicle. Elaine Marez suffered a liver laceration and a fractured rib. Evette Marez suffered a loss of consciousness and facial abraisons. Evonne Marez suffered a concussion and contusions to the right elbow and right knee. Davina Hernandez suffered a collar bone fracture, abrasions, laceration and concussion.
Plaintiffs contended that Anchor Academy was vicariously liable for the negligence of driver Iola Smith. It was also contended that defendant Anchor Academy and its driver were substantially negligent in overcrowding the vehicle with minor students and in not properly assuring that at least seven of them were seat belted. It was contended that WUSD did not visit Anchor Academy on an annual basis as required under the Education Code and did not comply with its oversight responsibilities and did not monitor the fiscal condition of the charter school. There was also evidence that Mrs. Marez had made complaints to the principal/supervisors at Anchor Academy regarding the overloading of the vans before the traffic accident and nothing was done.
The parties reached a $4.5 million settlement on June 23, 2016.