Asphalt truck collides with plaintiff's car. Multiple fractures. $2 million. Santa Barbara County.


Liability is disputed when auto and asphalt truck collide, causing plaintiff's vehicle to hit a tree.

The Case

  • Case Name: Maryanne Knight v. Ramsey Asphalt Construction Corporation, Estate of Melvin E. Dworak III
  • Court and Case Number: Santa Barbara Superior Court / 1438227
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Tuesday, April 21, 2015
  • Type of Case: Vehicles - Truck vs. Auto
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Thomas P. Anderle
  • Plaintiffs:
    Maryanne Knight, 48, IT manager.
  • Defendants:
    Ramsey Asphalt Construction Corporation
    Estate of Melvin E. Dworak III
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $2,000,000
  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: 0% to plaintiff.
  • Economic Damages:

    Past Economic: $328,720

    Future Economic: $452,342 

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past Non-Economic: $609,469
    Future Non-Economic: $609,469

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 11 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 2 days.
  • Jury Polls: 11-1 (negligence), 12-0 (causation), 10-2 (damages).
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Plaintiff will seek costs and prejudgment interest.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Pulverman & Pulverman LLP by Raymond J. Pulverman, Santa Barbara.

    Law Offices of Jeffrey Young by Jeffrey S. Young, Santa Barbara.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Hager & Dowling by John V. Hager and Amber N. Hurley, Santa Barbara.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Anne Barnes, R.N., life care planning, Glendale.

    John Deacon, M.D., wound care, Santa Barbara. (treating physician)

    Graham Hurvitz, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Santa Barbara. (treating physician)

    Steven Pearson, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Santa Barbara.

    Paul Willis, M.D., neurology, Santa Barbara. (treating physician)

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    William R. Gallivan, Jr., M.D., orthopedic surgery, Santa Barbara.

    Matthew Harrison, M.D., orthopedic surgery,
    Santa Barbara.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    John E. Nordstrand, economics, Santa Barbara.

    Kurt Douglas Weiss, forensic engineering/accident reconstruction,
    Santa Barbara.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Christopher Gayner, accident reconstruction, Santa Barbara.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff Maryanne Knight sued defendant Melvin E. Dworak, and his employer Ramsey Asphalt Construction Corp., in connection with an automobile collision that occurred on Oct. 4, 2011. Dworak died of unrelated causes before trial.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiff contended she was traveling southbound on U.S. Highway 101, just south of the La Cumbre overcrossing, when a 2008 Ford F-550 being driven by defendant Dworak struck her 2003 Toyota. Plaintiff alleged that Dworak made an unsafe lane change, struck her car, and forced her off the freeway, through the guardrail and into a tree.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Ramsey Asphalt admitted it was liable for any negligence of its employee, but claimed that Dworak was not negligent in the collision, and if he was, that both drivers were negligent. Also, defendant contended that the plaintiff made an unsafe lane change and was driving in excess of the speed limit  for wet roadway conditions.

    Ramsey Asphalt admitted that plaintiff sustained serious injuries, but disputed the claim she needed future knee and ankle
    replacement surgery.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Plaintiff claimed she sustained a fractured pelvis, sacrum, femur, tibia and fibula. Plaintiff underwent an open reduction and internal fixation of the tibial fractures with plates and screws, and an intramedullary rodding of her femur. It was contested that she will need future surgeries on her knee and ankle.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $238,526
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $450,568
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $90,194
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $1,774

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $1,000,000
  • Defendant Final Offer before Trial: Defendants initially offered $500,000 before trial, and then offered $1,000,000.