An El Monte dad has filed a $100-million lawsuit against two men whose street-racing caused the deaths of his wife and two young children. The Whittier Daily News reports that Stephen Groce has also named Nissan North America in the product liability lawsuit stating that the 2002 Nissan Altima Dora Groce was driving at the time of the fiery crash on Oct. 16 had a defective fuel tank that exploded and caused the deaths.
The lawsuit announcement came on Tuesday, only two hours after the two men suspected of causing the crash – Martin Marones, 21 and Robert Canizalez, 19 – were charged with three counts of murder and face 15 years to life in prison for each one of those counts. Canizalez was arrested at the scene, but Marones fled, crossed the border and went into hiding at an aunt’s place in Mexico. He was arrested and brought back to the United States earlier this week, according to news reports.
Dora Groce was reportedly driving her children, ages 8 and 4, to a doctor’s appointment when the two men, who were involved in a street race on a residential street, broadsided her Altima. Groce’s car was pushed into a stopped pickup truck and burst into flames with the family inside. According to the article, autopsy reports show the mom died on impact, but that the children died because of the fire.
An attorney for the plaintiff explained to reporters that there were two factors in the incident: 1. The collision and 2. The explosion and the fire. The product liability aspect of this lawsuit claims that Nissan is liable for defects in the fuel system that caused the explosion and consequently the fire that killed the children.
Groce’s attorney also told reporters that this lawsuit will hopefully teach a lesson to prospective street racers that their foolish and reckless actions will have consequences and that those consequences include financial ruin. For these two men, it also includes a very long time in prison.
It is hard to tell if this man will ever recover from losing his beautiful family to the whims of two men whose only concern was to gratify their need for a cheap thrill. Personal injury lawsuits often have dollar signs attached to them. Sometimes they’re specified amounts, but most of the time, they are “unspecified.” But the reason those dollar signs are there is to make people pay for their wrongful actions. In this case, if the evidence shows that Nissan made a defective product, the corporation must pay for making that product.
In a sense, it is these types of lawsuits that remind us that in a mostly unjust, unfair world there is still hope and the possibility of justice for the common man.
By: Staff Writer