In July of 2010, then-37-year-old Richard Ernest Caselli of Ladera Ranch was sentenced to four years in state prison after having pleaded guilty two months earlier to having been high on cocaine when he plowed his 2001 Volvo S-60 sedan into a 2004 Nissan Murano on the 73 toll road north of Laguna Canyon Road, killing 52-year-old driver Brook Boynton, 52, of San Clemente.
Caselli served about two and a half years behind bars, but his legal troubles were not over.
Bisnar | Chase, a Newport Beach-based, personal-injury law firm retained by Boynton's 84-year-old mother, is trumpeting having obtained a $2 million settlement in their civil wrongful-death lawsuit, Boynton v. Caselli. Not that Caselli, who was convicted of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence for the October 2009 crash, is going to have to come up with the cash.
Johnella Boynton, the victim's sole heir, turned to Bisnar | Chase after being told by another law firm to simply accept Caselli's insurance limits of $15,000 and $85,000 in uninsured-motorist insurance on her son's policy, according to her Bisnar | Chase trial attorney Scott Ritsema. A new stategy was developed in which Caselli would be sued for wrongful death, and Nissan Motors of America and Capistrano Nissan would be litigated separately for product liability.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Before the recent $2 million settlement with Caselli, which was reached in a conference a week before the scheduled Feb. 25 trial date, Johnella Boynton agreed on an deal with the car maker and dealer for an undisclosed sum.
Nissan was roped in because after Caselli's Volvo initially struck the Murano, Boynton's driver's seat collapsed backward, and he came out of his seatbelt as the vehicle tripped on the curb and rolled over several times, according to court documents. Boynton was then ejected from the Nissan as it rolled over and was later pronounced dead at the scene.
Ritsema defends going after Caselli in the Bisnar | Chase statement: "The Boynton family was determined to hold Caselli accountable for his actions. Although money cannot bring back a loved one, this family got all of the justice they could get from our civil justice system. Mr. Caselli has this additional 'ball and chain' strapped to his ankle to remind him for the rest of his life of what he did to the Boynton family."