Monterey, CA – After a nearly two-year legal fight slated to go to trial September 27, Golden State Portables recently agreed to pay $5 million for its role in the wrongful death of Carmel native Joy Judd.
Shortly after Judd’s untimely and wrongful death, friends, family and community members placed a roadside memorial on Pacific Street - where the fatal collision occurred. Judd, a 1959 graduate of Carmel High School, also was a cancer survivor and special education teacher. Despite the significant legal settlement obtained by Dunnion Law, Judd’s surviving children continue to grieve her loss.
Krista Behi, Judd’s youngest daughter, recounted her family’s close relationship with Judd. “She had a larger than life personality and she would fill every room with this enormous smile…everyone remembers the Joy smile. Her name was Joy and she actually exuded this sense of joy. She could not have had a more appropriate name.”
During the legal proceedings, Golden State Portables claimed Judd was responsible for the incident, and that the company should not be held responsible. Dunnion Law, a California personal injury firm based in Monterey, represented Judd’s heirs, and clashed with the multiple firms that Golden State Portables hired for its defense.
“If her family had gone without legal help, Golden State Portables’ effort to deny or reduce liability for Judd’s death would have dramatically changed the outcome,” said Connell Dunnion, Esq. and Managing Partner of Dunnion Law. “The real point here is to force Golden State Portables to operate in our community with the level of responsibility we all expect from them. If they had done so, the bright light that was Joy Judd might still be shining on our community today.”
Dunnion Law coordinated with Judd’s children to participate in the legal process requiring extensive communication among family members in California, Poland and Australia. During the mediation, Samuel Farr, former U.S. congressman of the 20th congressional district in which Carmel resides, provided statements attesting to Judd’s joyful character and many contributions to the community. The two had been long-time friends of more than 50 years, having been classmates at Carmel High School.
In their official public response, defense attorneys pleaded that other individuals, including Judd, directly or proximately caused or contributed to the fatal incident. However, investigations during the legal process revealed that the driver, Martin Sanchez Nunez, had been cited in 2006, 2010 and 2019 for on-the-job accidents while working for Golden State Portables. The 2019 incident occurred a month after he had struck and killed Judd. Dunnion Law, on behalf of Judd’s children, pursued a punitive damages claim, arguing that Golden State Portables had failed to train, supervise, and hold Nunez accountable for his multiple safety violations.
According to the police report of the August 14, 2019 incident, Judd was walking eastward on the southwest crosswalk of Pacific and Madison at about 9 a.m. during her daily morning walk near her home. Nunez, who was turning right to travel south on Pacific Street, struck Judd and continued driving around the corner over Judd and finally stopped on Pacific Street. Suffering multiple fractures throughout her body, bleeding from her head, numerous contusions and other injuries from the collision, Judd was pronounced dead at the scene.
In video footage taken from traffic cameras near the accident site at the intersection of Pacific and Madison streets, Nunez can be seen turning the corner and striking Judd who had entered the crosswalk with the right of way. Nunez then continued his turn onto Pacific Street while Judd’s body tumbled limply beneath the wheels of the 22,000-lb. truck. Despite the Monterey Fire Department and Monterey Police Department coming immediately, Judd died at the scene. Nunez later admitted to having failed to notice Judd at all prior to driving over her.
The seven-figure settlement to Judd’s six surviving children puts an end to the highly contentious case in which Golden State Portables hired multiple different law firms in its attempt to place responsibility on the victim’s actions, rather than their driver’s.
Criminal charges have been filed and are currently underway against Nunez for his part in Judd’s wrongful death.
(See it as published in The Monterey Herald)