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Sep 26, 2018

Arana Family Awarded over $200K

Julia Arana

The Supreme Court has handed down a hefty fine on Orange Walk South area representative Abelardo Mai to pay over two hundred and twenty thousand dollars in damages to the family of Julia Arana. On April first, sometime around eight in the night, Mai was driving along the Philip Goldson Highway when he knocked down Arana in Trial Farm village.  She was in a critical condition and was hospitalized for several weeks. But about nineteen days after she was released from the hospital, she died. Mai had told the courts that he was not responsible for causing her death after a postmortem certified the cause of death as acute cardio respiratory failure caused by broncho pneumonia.  The conclusion then was that this was unrelated to her accident.  But her family believed it was because she was healthy prior to the accident. So her son filed a civil suit seeking damages. Today, Justice Courtney Abel handed down the decision awarding damages of over two hundred thousand dollars to be paid to the Arana family. News Five’s Andrea Polanco reports.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

P.U.P. Orange Walk South Area Representative Abelardo Mai has been ordered to pay over two hundred thousand dollars to the Arana family. That’s because the politician knocked down fifty-nine-year-old Julia Arana in April 2016 and about two months later she died. And since last year, her son Nissan Arana filed a civil suit asking the court to award damages to the family. Today the court decided that Arana’s family should receive more than two hundred thousand dollars. The Arana’s Attorney Sheena Pitts explains.

 

Sheena Pitts

Sheena Pitts, Attorney for the Arana Family

“The outcome was clear as day from the day the accident occurred. The court found Abelardo Mai hundred percent liable. The court also found that as a result of the injuries sustained, that is what caused her to die. So, he did not only knock her down and cause her severe head and body injuries. He also caused her death from those injuries. And the court pointed out, and we are forever grateful for the assistance of Doctor Sanchez a trained pathologist, for more years than you can imagine, who showed us that the death certificate prepared by Doctor Ken was so erroneous beyond logic and that the only reason the deceased died is because she suffered those injuries. So, we are grateful to Doctor Sanchez for that.  We are taking instructions on quantum. The court awarded the claimant one hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars for general damage – that is pain and suffering and loss of amenities. The court also made awards in relation to gratuitous care, loss of earnings, and special damages and also loss of expectation of life. It is about, between two hundred and twenty to two hundred and thirty thousand dollars with interest. So, interest is accruing.”

 

Back in July, Mai maintained that he was not responsible for Arana’s death.

 

Abelardo Mai

Abelardo Mai, Defendant [File: July 5th, 2018]

“I have absolutely no fault in the accident. It was unavoidable. I did what I could have done. I was not speeding. I was not under any influence of any substance and I maintain that.”

 

Mai’s defense, according to Pitts, simply didn’t hold up.

 

Sheena Pitts

“Basically the defense’s case is that the deceased run into this vehicle. Or as we would say, in layman terms, the deceased knock down the car and not the other way around. That is what it appears the defense was in this case, in that it was not the defendant who was responsible or knocked down the lady, but that the lady, the deceased, Julia Arana, was the one who ran into the vehicle. In relation to the quantum on the defense part, their original proposition was that what ought to be awarded was between fifteen to twenty thousand dollars for pain and suffering and loss of amenities. But what was carefully analyzed and examined in this matter is the kind of injuries, the nature and extent of it and the kinds of effects of those injuries on the deceased. Mister Mai gave several versions of what happened that day. And we isolated two of the many versions to show that they are so inconsistent.  That is why the court has said if we take one version, that version being that he didn’t see her right up until collision. Then that version shows that he was negligent and not keeping a proper lookout. And it is a highway where there is a gas station y; there are homes nearby, people around in the locality. That is an area where you ought to be aware. You ought to exercise that responsibility that you have. And the judge also found that he was in fact speeding, so all of those other aspects of evidence are what assisted the court to come to the final conclusion that there is no contributory negligence on the side of the deceased and that Mr. Mai is one hundred percent liable.”

 

But is this the end of this matter? Attorney Pitts says that’s left to be seen, as both parties can appeal.

 

Sheena Pitts

“We can’t celebrate just yet. We have to wait for the order to be finalized, perfected. We also have to give the defense time if they want to appeal, they have twenty-one days. And as I have said before, I am still taking instructions because the claimant can appeal too. You were in there and you saw the differences in our approach in terms of quantum for the claimant. Our claim for quantum was markedly higher than what was awarded. And the claim on the defendant’s side was markedly lower than what was awarded. So, both parties are open to if they choose to appeal based on how low or how high the award is.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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