Kansas City
Over $1 Billion in Verdicts and Recoveries
Award Tops $1 Million in Postal Truck Crash
Mark Morris
The Kansas City Star

A federal judge Tuesday awarded more than $ 1 million to the survivors of a postal - truck accident that killed a 3-year-old West Side girl.

The order from U.S. District Judge Gary Fenner culminated a two-year legal struggle that began April 21, 1998, when a postal truck slammed into the building in which Andrea Nicole Salazar was sleeping.

In the case, US Postal Service officials acknowledged liability because the driver, who jumped from the vehicle before the crash, had been negligent in his operation of the truck.

Lawyers representing Andrea's family and the Postal Service argued over damages in a three-day bench trial before Fenner in late September.

The government does not foresee appealing Fenner's order, said Chris Whitley, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office, which represented the Postal Service.

Lawyer Anita Porte Robb, who represented Andrea's family, said the Postal Service's admission of responsibility was an important factor in the case.

"It's pretty tragic," Robb said. "These were the kinds of folks they had driving the postal vehicles. It's pretty frightening."

In December 1998 after a four day trial, a Jackson County jury acquitted the driver, Sinclair L. Taylor, of careless driving.

In his two-page order, Fenner did not explain how he arrived at his final damage figures. He did however, award: 

$850,00 to Andrea's parents for her death;

$50,000 to her mother, Jenny Salazar, for emotional distress;

$25,000 to the family for injuries suffered by Andrea's brother, Dario Salazar, who was 2 years old at the time of the accident; and

$100,000 to Jesus Manuel Valles, her father, for physical injuries and emotional distress.

Whitley noted that government lawyers suggested damages of $650,000 at the end of the case in September. The plaintiffs had asked for $5.75 million.

In filing the federal wrongful death and personal injury lawsuit in April 1999, Robb said the Postal Service initially had denied an administrative claim for damages from the parents. The lawsuit, she said, was to establish whether driver training, poor maintenance or improper loading contributed to the accident.

The original lawsuit also named the owner of the apartment building, Richard G. Keller, as a defendant, saying he knew the building had been hit by runaway vehicles before and should have taken reasonable steps to protect the building.

The building at 615 W. 20th St. sat at the bottom of the exit ramp off Interstate 35. It was demolished after the accident.

Fenner, however, dismissed Keller from the case, ruling in July that there was no evidence Keller knew or should have known of the building's vulnerability to runaway vehicles..

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Personal Injury Lawyers - Kansas City, Missouri

Personal injury is an area of law that pertains to the injury of an individual. Both physical and emotional injuries fall into this branch of tort law. A personal injury lawyer is generally involved in cases where an injury has occurred due to the negligence of another party.

Examples of cases that a personal injury lawyer in Kansas City, Missouri can assist with include workplace accidents, falling or other accidents in the home, premises liability, defective and hazardous product cases, and dental and medical malpractice cases. If negligence on behalf of another party can be proved in court, compensation may be awarded.

Personal injury attorneys can also assist with industrial disease cases that may include respiratory diseases or a decline in health due to hazardous occupational conditions. These and other medical cases are often very complex, and it is advised that all aspects of the claim be handled by an experienced attorney.

Wrongful Death Lawyers - Kansas City, Missouri

Wrongful death falls under the common law jurisdictions wherein a person may be held liable for a death. It is important to note that wrongful death is the only course of legal action in which a company, rather than an individual, is at fault for a death.

In Kansas City, Missouri, cases involving wrongful death accidents require a preponderance of evidence as the standard of proof. Generally, the suit is filed by close relatives.

This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Past results afford no guarantee of future results. Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

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