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Ventura jury awards $49.2 million in fatal accident that paralyzed CHP officer

January 27, 2011 |  4:40 pm

A Ventura County jury has awarded $49.2 million in a suit involving a freeway accident that killed one man and paralyzed a California Highway Patrol officer.

Jurors on Tuesday decided that Highway Patrol Officer Anthony Pedeferri and his wife, Carrie, should receive $39 million in damages stemming from a Dec. 19, 2007, crash that left Pedeferri quadriplegic.

The officer had pulled over motorist Andres Parra on California 101 north of Ventura and was talking to him through Parra's SUV's window when a man driving a truck slammed into both of them, killing Parra.

Jurors awarded Parra's parents $10.2 million for the loss of their son. 

In a separate criminal case, Jeremy White of Paso Robles, Calif., the driver of the truck, pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated and transporting marijuana.

He was sentenced in 2008 to 15 years in prison.

White told Highway Patrol investigators that two dirt bikes in the back of his truck became loose and distracted him. Jurors agreed that the distraction contributed to the crash and ordered Bert's Mega Mall, whose employees strapped the bikes down, to pay roughly one-third of the verdicts.

One of Pedeferri's attorneys, Erik Feingold of Ventura, said the officer was "extremely gratified" by the verdict. Attorneys for Bert's Mega Mall said they plan to appeal.

-- Catherine Saillant