Brain-damaged woman to get $6.15 million

July 28, 2004

BY KEN KOBAYASHI, Advertiser Courts Writer

The family of a 38-year-old woman has obtained a $6.15 million settlement for severe brain damage she suffered when she was struck by a metal cylinder from a moving truck on Kunia Road.

Kathy Mueller was left comatose and underwent brain surgeries after she was hit in the head by a 13-pound hydraulic jack head extension from an American Movers Inc. truck headed in the opposite direction June 10, 2002. The metal object went through Mueller's windshield. Her two young boys were in the car but not injured.

The amount of the settlement is considered among the largest in personal injury cases here.The bulk of the settlement is from the insurance company for American Movers, according to Wayne Kekina, lawyer for the family. Mueller's car insurance carrier contributed the rest of the money.

Mueller emerged from her coma in January 2003 and is now wheelchair-bound in a care home in Iowa with "very little awareness of her environment," Kekina said yesterday. Her prognosis is poor and she will require 24-hour-a-day care, he said. "The family has been devastated by this accident" he said.

Mueller's husband, Mark, was a federal civilian employee here. The family has since moved to Iowa. The two sons in the back seat of the car were 4 years old and 6 months old at the time of the incident. Mueller recognizes her children and cries when she sees them, Kekina said. The lawsuit filed by Mueller's family alleged that the metal object was improperly loaded and secured on the truck, causing it to fall onto the road. The lawyer for American Movers' insurance company could not be reached for comment yesterday.