Consumer Attorney of the Year is awarded to a CAOC member or members who significantly advanced the rights or safety of California consumers by achieving a noteworthy result in a case.Tim Tietjen was nominated for the award because of his involvement in Martinez v. State of California, Et. Al.
In 2007, a 34-vehicle pileup occurred in the Newhall Tunnel of Los Angeles County. After the driver of a speeding truck crashed into the center divider, a series of secondary collisions occurred which sealed off the majority of the 544-foot-long tunnel. A fire sparked from one of the crashes and quickly spread throughout the tunnel, trapping many of the drivers. According to California Highway Patrol, 14 of the 34 involved drivers were likely to have been traveling at unsafe speeds at the time of the collision. After an investigation, it was determined that the design of the tunnel contributed to the incident’s severity due to the inadequate sight distance corresponding to the established speed limit.
As a result, close to 150 claims were consolidated into a single action that was handled by Tim Tietjen. This included three deaths, five personal injury claims, and several dozen property damage actions. Attorney Tietjen represented all of the plaintiffs over the course of several years, requiring great skill to handle the case’s extreme complexity.
In total, 13 separate settlements were eventually reached with the State of California, the trucking company that initiated the crash, and 11 other defendants involved. The Martinez family was awarded $11.4 million for their wrongful death case, ranking as one of the highest settlements in California’s history.