Civil Plaintiff

Family of Mother Killed in Car Crash Receives a Settlement of $14.1 Million

The odds seemed impossible. The police officer blamed her. The witnesses blamed her. She was gone and could not speak for herself. Her children were too young to testify. Who would speak up to tell her story?
In late 2019, Susan Tompkins went to the store to pick up some tile samples for her husband who worked in construction. After she got the samples, she put her young son into his car seat in the back of her car and drove down the driveway to a rural highway. Looking to her left, she was unable to see down the road because of some large construction trucks parked alongside and near the roadside, blocking her view.

A security camera recorded her approaching the highway then backing up. She moved her car to another location to try to see but visibility still seemed limited. She again approached the roadway expecting that by now the coast was clear.

In the meantime, a pickup truck pulling a trailer full of heavy equipment was coming down the highway at around 55 miles per hour. Because Susan could not see around the work trucks, she could not see this truck – and its driver could not see her. Trying her best to see as she entered the highway, Susan accelerated forward.

Then, a life was lost and others were forever changed. The truck pulling the trailer hit Susan’s car broadside. Minutes later, her son in the backseat heard her labored final breaths. He was physically unharmed, but his mother was dead. Susan left two young children and a husband whose life she helped turn around years earlier.

Tragedy struck the Tompkins family. On hearing of the family’s loss, a customer of Susan’s husband, Dan, suggested her husband talk with Dan’s son who is a lawyer. He did, and his son, Nick Lezotte, agreed to try to help the Tompkins family. Realizing this was a difficult case, Nick hired San Jose lawyers, Rob Bohn and Ram Fletcher of Bohn & Fletcher, in San Jose, a firm with a reputation for handling tough cases.
After investigating and researching the matter themselves, Bohn and Fletcher decided there was a case to be made that Susan was not primarily, much less solely, at fault for causing this fatal collision. They believed the family had a case for the loss of their wife and mother. The police officer’s work was sloppy, the defendants’ employees failed to follow safety protocols, and there appeared to be an effort to “cover up” what really caused the crash. The defendants, represented by well-established national and regional law firms specializing in the defense of fortune 500 companies, blamed Susan over and over again arguing this case had little to no value in the very conservative California county where the case was venued.

After conducting extensive written discovery, witness interviews, site inspections, and scores of depositions, Tompkins’ lawyers, Fletcher, Lezotte and Bohn, were able to make their case against the companies whose employees parked the trucks and were responsible for onsite safety as well as the driver who crashed into Susan. Following three focus groups, a mediation, two settlement conferences, a summary judgment motion, motions to bifurcate, years of negotiations, and a last-minute trial continuance due to unavailability of a trial judge, the matter settled for over $14 million – a record recovery in the county.

The settlement, approved by the court, was paid out by a hybrid structured settlement and managed funds minors trust which was a unique result proposed and argued by the Tompkins’ counsel in order to maximize the settlement value for the family. The settlement is projected to provide over $100 million to the family over their lifetimes.

Due to the confidential nature of the settlement, names have been changed and county unidentified. For more information, please contact Rob Bohn at rob@bohnlaw.com or (408) 460-4382.

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