La Jolla attorney wins case against Pizza Hut

Attorney Joe Lavelle Photo: Courtesy
Attorney Joe Lavelle Photo: Courtesy

La Jolla attorney Joe Lavelle and co-counsel John Gomez Wertz McDade Wallace Moot & Brower represented the family in a recent case against Pizza Hut in which a San Diego Superior Court jury returned a verdict against for a total of $10.8 million.

The case arose out of a head-on collision in 2008 between a Pizza Hut delivery driver and a mother and daughter on Clairemont Drive. In the crash, an 18-year-old Pizza Hut delivery driver drifted across the center divide and into oncoming traffic lanes, and collided head on with the vehicle containing Olena Marie Novak and her daughter Shari Marie Novak.

Olena, 87 at the time, suffered a severe multi-level cervical fracture. Her daughter, Shari suffered a catastrophic and permanent brain injury, and now requires 24-hour care.

After the crash, Pizza Hut claimed its delivery driver had suffered a seizure caused by previously undiagnosed epilepsy, causing the collision representing the Novak family countered that Pizza Hut’s driver knew she had a previous medical condition, and that Pizza Hut should have done more to ensure she could safely work as a professional driver.