The car manufacturer’s attempt to get out of the wrongful death lawsuit from Paul Walker’s daughter has been stopped in its tracks by a L.A. Superior judge. Meadow Rain Walker’s legal pursuit of Porsche can go forward said Judge Stephen Pfahler in a final ruling Tuesday, rejecting the company’s motion to quash the matter in state court on the basis that it wasn’t directly corporately connected to California.
“Facts show that Porsche purposefully availed itself of the benefits of doing business in California,” the judge said in a tentative ruling after a hearing on July 18. “Making a substantial number of sales to California through an intermediary — even a truly independent intermediary — does not preclude a finding of purposeful availment.”
First filed on September 28 last year, the multi-claim jury-seeking complaint from Meadow Rain Walker and her guardian Brandon Birtell says that the death of the Fast And Furious star and 2005 Porsche Carrera CT driver Roger Rodas on November 30, 2013 was due to “defects” in the car. “Absent these defects in the Porsche Carrera GT, Paul Walker would be alive today,” the filing alleged.
In a November 12 response the Volkswagen-owned Porsche also said that Walker knew the car could be dangerous. With HCF Porsche AG, Porsche Cars North America Inc., and Beverly Hills Porsche as the defendants, the German based company also said that Walker’s death was his “own comparative fault” partially because the vehicle had been “abused and altered” as well as “misused and improperly maintained.”
Of course, this doesn’t mean that it’s a clear ride for the younger Walker’s case. A case filed by Rodas’ widow in federal court against Porsche was tossed out in April with the ruling that the manufacturer would unlikely be found responsible for the accident.
The autopsy of Walker by the LA County Coroner’s office concluded that he and Rodas died of trauma and burn injuries. A LAPD investigation of the November 2013 crash cited speed as the cause. Meadow Rain Walker’s unspecified damages seeking suit says that the Carrera CT was traveling between “63 to 71 mph” when the crash in Santa Clarita happened. That’s far less than the 80 to around 93 mph that the police in their report said the vehicle was going when the accident occurred
Walker’s father also filed a wrongful death suit against the company in state court last November. Judge Pfahler is weighing if his case, his granddaughter’s case, and several others should be consolidated.
Attorneys from global law firm DLA Piper are now representing Porsche in the legal action. One of the company’s in-house attorneys Jeffrey W. Gates is also involved. Jeffery Milam of Pasadena and Roger Garrett, Ryan Squire, Jennifer Slater and Edward Racek of Garrett & Tully are representing the younger Walker and the actor’s estate in the case.