Jury Awards $150 Million in Wrongful Death Case

Part of family killed after strike truck that parked on side of highway with no lights


A jury has determined a trucking company and one of its drivers should pay $150 million in damages to a 13-year-old girl who watched her family burn to death in a fiery crash on a Southern California freeway nearly four years ago.

The verdict was reached Friday after three days of deliberations that found truck driver Rudolph Ortiz was negligent for parking on the side of the freeway in the early morning darkness without leaving on any light or emergency reflector. Ortiz and his employer, Watsonville-based Bhandal Bros. Trucking, were found jointly liable.

"It's hard for her to comprehend" the scope of the verdict, attorney Brian Brandt said Monday about his young client.

Kylie Asam was 9 when she and her 11-year-old brother, Blaine, managed to escape from their family's mangled SUV after it struck and got caught under a big rig parked on the shoulder of Interstate 210. They saw their parents and older brother get burned alive after the vehicle they were trapped in caught fire.