Sacramento jury awards paraplegic woman $31.9 million

A woman who suffered a traumatic brain injury and was rendered paraplegic in a 2010 traffic collision near Isleton was awarded $31.9million Friday by a Sacramento Superior Court jury.

Debra Hackett, who was 53 at the time of the Oct. 11, 2010, accident on Highway 12, was driving an 18-passenger bus when she collided with a big rig that had jackknifed in front of her from the opposite direction.

Silva Trucking Inc., which employed the driver of the truck, did not dispute liability. The trial in front of Judge Judy Holzer Hersher was held to determine how much Hackett should be paid.

Court papers filed by plaintiffs’ attorney Robert Buccola said that Hackett “enjoyed a vibrant social life and was very active with her church.” The mother of four who has been married to her husband, Bill, for over 30 years “suffered multiple skull fractures, traumatic brain injury, a spinal cord injury, a broken jaw, lacerated liver, broken ribs, multiple facial fractures, and various other injuries,” Buccola’s trial brief said.

Hackett has been living in a skilled nursing facility where, Buccola said, she is being “warehoused” and unable to get the assorted therapies she needs.

“She misses her husband, family and friends who love her,” Buccola said in the court papers. “Instead, she watches television, stares at plain walls and sleeps alone.”

Buccola said in an interview that as a result of Friday’s verdict, Debra Hackett can move home and be provided with continuous nursing care.

“She desperately wants to be home, and she is rejoicing now in the news she will be coming home,” Buccola said.

Jurors also awarded Hackett’s husband $3million for loss of consortium.