Hernandez vs. Cathedral City & Castro: Three Sides of the Story

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December 10, 2023

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Law & Justice

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(RIVERSIDE, CA) — Opening statements were heard In the lawsuit against Cathedral City for the accident that left the plaintiff, a landscape worker, severely injured. The plaintiff is suing Cathedral City for dangerous road conditions at the time of the accident.

In the civil trial in Riverside County Superior Court, Maria Casto, the driver,  admitted running a red light and hitting the plaintiff.  In court documents, she argues that the accident area was under construction, speed signs and traffic lights were relocated to places blocked from view, traffic cone positioning was not efficient, and traffic could flow without reducing the speed.

The first witness, Castro, 55, the driver, testified that on October 29, 2019, she hit Ventura Hernandez, 58, a landscaping worker, at about 7:23 a.m. as he was headed to work on his bicycle northbound on Allen Avenue. Court documents say that Castro’s speed limit at the time of the accident was 45 mph in a construction zone with a 25 mph limit.

Castro was driving her 2017 Jeep Wrangler eastbound on East Palm Canyon Drive and testified that she did not see any red light when approaching the intersection, only after the collision.  “The traffic light was misplaced, and the sunlight made it difficult to see it,” said Ms. Castro.  She also admitted to not wearing her prescription glasses while driving. 

Jonathan W. Douglass,  attorney for Mr. Hernandez, argued in his opening statement that if the street had been closed or responsibly patrolled, no accident would have happened, and Mr. Hernandez would not have suffered serious injuries. Hernandez crashed into the car’s windshield and sustained a traumatic brain injury and a broken back. He is pursuing more than $25,000 in damages. 

Cathedral City counterclaims that the street’s condition played no role during the accident and that Hernandez’s claims are “opportunistic and greedy” since all medical expenses were covered by the driver’s car insurance.

One of Hernandez’s attorneys said that the trial is expected to last about four weeks and that the eight jurors assigned to the case would hear testimonies from about 15 witnesses, including neurosurgeons, psychologists, a construction logistics manager, and Hernadez’s wife and children.  

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