Pacoima : Brothers Receive $4 Million Settlement

Two brothers from Pacoima received a settlement Thursday of more than $4 million from several trucking firms in connection with a 1992 accident in which a runaway trailer slammed into their car at night on the Simi Valley Freeway in Mission Hills.

Manuel Martinez, 20, and his brother Jose, 23, were struck when a rear trailer broke loose from a two-trailer rig, veering into the path of their car. The brothers' car rear-ended the disabled trailer, which had lost its lights when the breakaway occurred, according to their attorney, George Aaron of Tarzana.

Jose Martinez, who was driving the car in the September, 1992, incident, received minor injuries. His brother Manuel, however, suffered massive head injuries including brain damage, loss of an eye, partial amputation of his scalp, facial disfigurement and loss of his sense of smell and taste.

Defendants in the lawsuit were Watkins Associated Industries and its subsidiary, Watkins Motor Lines Inc., as well as the now-defunct Super-Cal Express of Irwindale, each of which owned one of the trailers; and B&B; Transport of Santa Maria, also now defunct, which owned and operated the tractor-trailer.

The California Department of Transportation was named in the suit and accepted financial responsibility in the settlement. The suit cited the agency for failing to maintain two street lamps that were not lighted near the accident site.

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