PHILADELPHIA – Defense attorneys are asking the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas reconsider a January verdict that awarded $1 million to a woman injured in a 2014 traffic accident, the woman's attorney says.
Attorneys for Fausto Paez and his company 500 W. Meat Corp. are asking Judge Ann Butchart to reconsider her January ruling in favor of Sillys Castillo, a mother of four who had her face struck by the side mirror of a minivan driven by an employee of 500 W. Meat Corp.
"They have asked the judge to throw out the verdict as it relates to the individual defendant/owner Peralta. They believe the evidence was sufficient against the corporate entity and the driver but not against the individual owner," said Mark Feinman, the attorney representing Castillo.
"They have a $15,000 policy limit and counsel is trying to assert that the individual owner is not personally liable and that there was insufficient evidence presented to support the claim."
Defense counsel is also asking the judge to throw out the entire verdict or "at the very least, against the individual owner," Feinman said. "In the alternative, they are seeking a new trial."
The case began Sept. 5, 2014 when Castillo, then a 37-year-old health care aide and mother of four, was crossing North Fifth Street at Dauphin Street in Northeast Philadelphia when a minivan's side mirror struck the left side of her face.
The minivan was driven by Jael Peralta, an employee of 500 W. Meat Corp. The impact knocked Castillo into the air, according to court documents.
The same documents say Peralta fled the scene but was boxed in only a couple of blocks later by two motorists who were driving behind Peralta when the accident occurred. Police soon arrived on the scene, but Peralta was not charged.
Castillo suffered skull fractures and throat injuries that necessitated a plate be surgically implanted, her jaw was wired shut and that a tracheostomy be performed. She also lost her upper molars.
Castillo received three months of in-home nursing care. She continues to suffer nerve damage, which has resulted in blurred vision numbness throughout the left side of her face, dizziness, headache and other pain. More medical treatment is expected, court documents say.
The defense does not dispute Castillo's injuries and treatment. Castillo does not suffer significant visible scarring, Feinman said.
"She has a scar where she had the trach inserted, however, no significant facial scarring," Feinman said. "She did have slight puffiness around the eye socket but nothing distinctive.
"Her testimony confirmed that she still has a plate in her face as well as needing additional surgical oral reconstruction and implants for the teeth that were lost."
Castillo and her husband sued Peralta, 500 W. Meat Corp., and Paez, claiming negligence. Paez did not appear during the Jan. 22 trial before Butchart, who did hear testimony from witnesses who said Peralta ran a red light at Fifth Street.
For his part, Peralta maintained the light was green. The defense cited the police report, which indicated that the light was green on Fifth Street as Peralta approached the intersection.
"There was independent testimony which contradicted the defendant driver's version," Feinman said. "He [Peralta] testified he had a green light. However, independent witnesses clearly stated and testified that the light was red and that he made no effort to stop."
Feinman said 500 W. Meat Corp., a meat market and deli, is no longer in operation and has no identifiable assets. Neither does Paez, a 21-year-old.