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Jury awards $42.4 million to  woman left in vegetative state


Following 2015 Lancaster collision

A jury has awarded $42.4 million to a woman who was pregnant when she was struck head-on by another driver in Lancaster in 2015 and remains in a vegetative state.

Diana Estevez was a 23-year-old nursing student with a 2-year-old son and was expecting a second son when the June 1, 2015 accident occurred. Her Saab was struck head-on by a Ford Explorer pickup driven by defendant Gregory Kadlec, whose pickup veered across Avenue M directly into Estevez’s vehicle, according to trial testimony at the Lancaster Courthouse.

Estevez suffered massive skull and facial injuries. She gave birth to a son, Leon, now 8, via emergency cesarean section while in a coma. She remains in a vegetative state with no awareness of her surroundings and no chance of recovery, doctors testified at trial. Her older son, Ethan, is now 10 years old.

Kadlec blamed the crash on the city of Lancaster, saying he lost control after hitting a pothole. But the jury rejected that story after deliberating for just one hour, unanimously finding that Kadlec’s negligence caused the accident. Kadlec did not attend the trial. Estevez’s attorneys played the jury a recorded statement he gave a sheriff’s deputy on the day of the crash and he did not mention a pothole.

“This case was about taking responsibility,” according to plaintiff’s attorney Ricardo Echeverria, who also said the award with interest could grow to $55 million. “It took almost nine years for Diana to get justice. But in the end, the jury got it right.”