A Superior Court jury yesterday reached a verdict finding Mobil Oil Mariana Islands Inc. liable to pay $1.3 million in damages for negligence to a security guard who sued the company after he was injured when he fell into a ditch on Mobil Oil’s premises in Lower Base, Saipan.
The nine jurors awarded plaintiff Herman Indalecio $681,000 in economic damages and $600,000 in non-economic damages, or for a total of $1,281,000.
The jurors found that Mobil Oil did permit Indalecio to use the area of the premises where he was injured.
The jurors also found that Mobil oil was negligent and that its negligence was a factual cause of Indalecio’s harm. The jurors did not find Indalecio negligent.
Asked for comment about the verdict, attorney Victorino DLG Torres, counsel for Indalecio, said he is thankful to the jurors and attorney Matthew Holley, who assisted him in the trial.
“The verdict shows that the people of the Commonwealth values safety and that people’s lives do matter,” Torres said.
Torres said the verdict also shows that the people of the Commonwealth will hold companies that breached that safety, responsible for the injuries they would cause.
Saipan attorney Thomas E. Clifford, counsel for Mobil Oil, refused to comment. Guam attorney Richard L. Johnson is Clifford’s co-counsel in the case.
The jurors began deliberating on Wednesday afternoon. They resumed deliberations yesterday and reached a verdict at about 11am.
The trial began last June 28. Presiding Judge Robert C. Naraja presided over the trial.
In his lawsuit, Indalecio asked the court to hold Mobil Oil liable to pay him damages for medical care and expenses, for pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, and diminished quality of life.
In the complaint, Torres said Indalecio fell into a ditch at Mobil Oil’s premises located in Lower Base on Dec. 23, 2013.
Torres said Mobil knew or by exercise of reasonable care should have discovered the dangerous condition regarding the ditch, and should have realized that it creates an unreasonable risk of harm to others such as Indalecio.
Torres said Mobil failed to maintain the premises in a safe and prudent manner by not putting a fence or a barricade where the ditch was located; not properly ensuring that its premises are safe to walk in; and not providing adequate warning signs to caution individuals of the dangerous condition.
Mobil Oil counsel Clifford in the opening statements pointed out that Mobil’s terminal in Lower Base is a highly regulated place by various federal and local agencies.
Clifford said the evidence will show that Indalecio got hurt because he did not take his duty as a security guard responsibly by not following the designated route patrol on the premises.
Clifford said Indalecio was not faking his injuries, but was exaggerating.