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Fresno Agrees to Pay $1.95 Million in Record Settlement.

SAN FRANCISCO -- The City of Fresno has agreed to pay $1.95 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit arising from a tragic accident that resulted in the death of a father of ten children last summer.

On July 21, 2001, Trinidad Campos was collecting aluminum cans near the driveway of an apartment complex at 4220 North First Street in Fresno. A large garbage truck owned by the City of Fresno entered the driveway of the apartment complex and emptied a large dumpster. Inexplicably, the truck ran over Mr. Campos as it was backing out of the driveway. Mr. Campos died as a result of his injuries. He was 78 years old. He had been married for 55 years and had 10 children.

Mr. Campos' wife, Dominga Lopez Campos, and the couple's ten children filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Fresno County Superior Court. The suit alleged that the driver of the truck (Walt Nissen Westrope) and passenger (Laurence Ramirez) were negligent, and that their negligence resulted in Mr. Campos' death. Ramirez testified in deposition that he was behind the truck, waving it back out of the driveway and that Mr. Campos was standing to the side of the truck. He said that he turned around to see if any other vehicles were coming into the driveway and that when he looked back at the truck, Mr. Campos was gone. He said that he then saw Mr. Campos under the truck and directed the driver to stop.

"This should never have happened," said Arturo J. Gonzalez, the family's legal counsel. "There were large mirrors on both sides of the truck. The driver should have seen Mr. Campos in those mirrors. In addition, there is no way that the passenger should have taken his eyes off of Mr. Campos. If this elderly gentleman was anywhere near that truck, they should have waited until he got out of the way before moving the vehicle. We need to take much better care of our senior citizens."

The City of Fresno has fired both employees and agreed to pay $1.95 million to settle the case, which was set for trial on August 12. The settlement is believed to be one of the largest settlements paid by a municipality in California for the wrongful death of a senior citizen. "The family was prepared to take this case to trial, but we believed the settlement was fair," said Gonzalez.

The family was represented by Arturo J. Gonzalez from Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco. This is the fourth million-dollar victory for Gonzalez in Fresno. He recently settled a case for $3 million involving the shooting death of Alberto Sepulveda, an 11 year-old boy who was shot in the back and killed during a botched SWAT raid in Modesto. Gonzalez also previously obtained jury verdicts in Fresno for $12.5 million and $1.45 million in two cases from Dinuba. The larger verdict stemmed from the shooting death of Ramon Gallardo, a 64 year-old farmworker who was shot approximately 15 times during a botched SWAT entry in 1997. The $1.45 million award resulted from the unlawful body cavity strip searches of four women who were arrested at a school board meeting in Dinuba.

Any questions regarding this settlement should be addressed to Arturo J. Gonzalez at 415-268-7020.

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Contact: Arturo J. Gonzalez of Morrison & Foerster LLP, +1-415-268-7020
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jul 9, 2002
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