A Las Vegas jury on Tuesday awarded $ 38.8 million to the family of an 11-year-old girl who was killed by a Republic Services garbage truck.
Outside the courtroom, Jazmin Espana’s family held printed photos of the girl smiling with Mickey Mouse, laughing in a water fight and celebrating the holidays with her loved ones.
“Nothing can bring my daughter back, but it was justice,” Encarnacion Espana said in Spanish through an interpreter. “Our children are valuable. “
Jurors delivered their verdict after more than a day of deliberation in the two-week wrongful death trial.
“It’s a difficult case, and it involved a lot of sadness,” District Judge Jacqueline Bluth said after the verdict was read. “Everyone involved took this process seriously. “
The civil case centered on Jazmin, who was hit and killed by a garbage truck after school in 2017. Throughout the trial, attorney Sean Claggett has asked jurors to award $ 65 million in damages. and interest to Jazmin’s mother.
The driver, Julio Cortez-Solano, received several paperwork in the years leading up to the death. He was fired and rehired.
“I hope this verdict has caught some attention and that they know that in the future they have to be better,” Claggett said. “Not just for the community, but for their employees. “
The services of the Republic issued the following statement after the announcement of the verdict:
“We extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Jazmin Espana. It was a tragic accident. Republic Services has always maintained a strong culture of commitment to safety and best-in-class safety programs and will continue to do so. We will evaluate our options in this case, but as standard practice we are unable to comment further on the dispute. “
Lawyer David Barron, who represents Republic Services, previously argued that the company was proactive in its training and had conducted a thorough investigation.
A detective at the scene also testified that the garbage truck was already in the crosswalk when Jazmin started walking.
“It’s a horrible loss, but there is no basis for punishment in this case,” Barron said during oral argument.
Barron denied his clients were responsible, but told the jury that if they were found to be negligent, $ 10.25 million, plus funeral costs, would suffice.
The collision happened on February 8, 2017, when Jazmin and her friend Samantha Lopez walked to the intersection of South Sandhill and East Viking Roads.
According to testimony during the trial, the garbage truck stopped next to the girls, and Cortez-Solano and Darryl Bryant, his colleague and passenger, smiled at them.
The walking signal indicated that the girls could cross the street, and Jazmin started to cross, turning once to ask Samantha if she was coming.
Seconds later, the truck, which had turned right, struck Jazmin and knocked her to the ground. CCTV shows he never came to a complete stop at the intersection.
At times during the trial, Cortez-Solano appeared moved on the stand. Through a Spanish interpreter, he apologized.
“My life has never been the same and never will be,” he told jurors.
He said he was sure the girls were still standing on the sidewalk when he made the turn.
On Tuesday, Espana said she hopes her daughter will be remembered as a charming and happy girl. She loved school and aspired to become a teacher.
The mother said she forgives the truck driver and Republic Services for what happened that day and hopes the verdict will teach them to take more precautions and hire better.
“I hope that in the future it will be good for the future or for the whole world,” she said. “Our children are worth a lot and we don’t know what will become of them.”