Mumbai-based couple win $36.5m in US case

On a visit to relatives in 2010, Jaishree and Prakash hit by 18-wheeler

A jury awarded a husband and wife from India nearly $36.5 million for injuries sustained in a car accident with an 18-wheeler in 2010.

The Mumbai-based couple praised the American justice system for awarding damages Friday for their suffering, which includes a lifelong need for 24-hour advanced medical care for the wife, Jaishree Sheth, according to their attorney Brian Panish.

On a visit to relatives in the US in 2010, Jaishree and her husband Prakash Sheth were passengers in a vehicle that was hit by a big-rig owned and operated by Schneider National Carriers, Inc.

Schneider spokeswoman Erin Elliott said in a statement Friday that the award isn't supported by the evidence and the company plans to ask for a new trial. If denied a new trial, the company plans to appeal.

"Schneider National employs some of the safest drivers in the industry; the driver involved in this case has an excellent safety record and was not cited in this accident," Elliott said.

According to Panish, the big-rig improperly tried to pass the vehicle and hit the vehicle, causing it to spin out and smash into the center divider and another vehicle.

The collision caused once-active Jaishree, 58, severe injuries, including loss of normal use of her bladder and bowels and reliance on a wheelchair for the rest of her life, said Panish.

"Her life will never be the same, she had a very active life. The judge and the jury spoke about that with their verdict," said Panish.

Panish said Jaishree's medical costs are significant, and she was initially a quadriplegic after the accident and will need more surgery.

Panish said the verdict was the largest awarded for personal injury in the history of Riverside County.

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