An Air Force captain who sued Southern California Gas Co. after he was seriously injured last year in Hawthorne when one of the company’s trucks struck him while he was on his motorcycle and dragged him several hundred feet has reached a $46-million settlement with the utility.
The settlement was announced Monday after a nearly monthlong civil trial as jurors were considering punitive damages in the case. Jurors already had awarded Jason Lo a nearly $41.9-million verdict, Lo’s attorneys said.
Lo, a Long Beach resident, said in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court that Southern California Gas was negligent when it allowed employee Dominick Consolazio, who suffered from seizures, to drive one of the utility’s trucks.
The company said in a statement Tuesday that it “took responsibility very early in the litigation process and admitted liability” for its driver’s actions.
“We respect the jury’s role in deciding the verdict and extend our sincere condolences to Mr. Lo and his family for the injuries and hardship they have endured,” the utility said.
Consolazio said he suffered a seizure before striking Lo, who was stopped at a red light on his motorcycle at Rosecrans and Hindry avenues on Feb. 13, 2017.
Lo and his motorcycle became wedged underneath the front end of the utility truck, which stopped at the intersection for 23 seconds, according to the lawsuit. The suit says Consolazio then continued driving, dragging Lo about 430 feet, in an attempt to flee the crash and get onto the freeway. Witnesses eventually forced Consolazio to stop the vehicle, and he was arrested.
Consolazio pleaded no contest to felony hit-and-run causing injury in August 2017 and was sentenced to five years’ probation and community service, according to court records.
Lo suffered serious injuries to his right leg and lost about 40% of his blood as a result of the crash. He spent nearly a month in the hospital with orthopedic and vascular injuries that required multiple surgeries, according to his attorneys.
His leg remains severely disfigured, and he faces additional surgeries to repair the damage. “Amputation of his right leg remains a threat that must be monitored for life,” his attorneys said.
“The Lo family will live with this tragedy for the rest of their lives,” attorney Brian Panish said. “The settlement reached by the parties after the jury’s substantial verdict will enable this young couple to move forward, build a family and get Capt. Lo the medical care he will need in the future.”