In the early morning hours of November 22, 2009, Kylie Asam’s life changed forever. A fiery accident with a semi truck killed three members of Kylie’s family. In October of this year, a jury awarded Kylie $150 million in damages in a wrongful death suit.
It was a dark Sunday morning as Kylie and her family traveled from their home in Riverside, California to celebrate Thanksgiving with family in Oregon. After hitting debris on Interstate 210, Kylie’s father, Michael Asam, decided to pull onto the shoulder of the highway. Unfortunately, Rudolph Ortiz’s semi-truck was already parked on the shoulder without a light or emergency reflector marking his location. The Asam family SUV crashed into Ortiz’s semi-truck and went up in flames. Kylie, who was 9 at the time, was able to escape from the car along with her brother Blaine, who was 11 at the time. Kylie and Blaine waved down other drivers and watched as their father, mother and older brother burned alive inside the SUV.
Kylie and Blaine took their wrongful death case to court, alleging that Ortiz had illegally parked to sleep on the shoulder of the highway. Warning signs along the highway indicated that stopping on the shoulder was for emergencies only. On October 25, 2013, Ortiz and his employer, Bhandal Brothers Trucking, were found liable for the deaths of the three members of the Asam family. Although the jury believed that the father, Michael Asam, was also negligent, the jury determined that his negligence was not a substantial factor in the deaths. The jury granted Kylie, now 13, an award of more than $150 million. This award includes an $8.75 million award for Blaine. Unfortunately, Blaine committed suicide this June on his mother’s birthday. Blaine’s award now goes to Kylie, with the entire award being placed in a trust for Kylie until her 18th birthday.
Accidents involving semi-trucks can be devastating.