Carrie Marchiafava was leaving a Gretna grocery store after loading up for her family's 2012 Thanksgiving dinner when she was crushed to death by her car, which a store employee was backing out from a tight parking spot for her.
A Jefferson Parish jury recently found that the store and its employee were liable in the death of Marchiafava, 85. But the dead woman's son and his attorneys are seeking more than the $1.4 million they are in line to receive, saying that amount is too small given Marchiafava's brutal fate.
Marchiafava visited the now-defunct Casey Jones Supermarket at Stumpf Boulevard and West Bank Expressway on Nov. 17, 2012, to buy food for her family's Thanksgiving meal five days later. But someone had parked too close to her car's passenger side, making it difficult for her to back out.
Store employee William Sarradet tried to back her car out for her. But he left the driver's side door open as he backed up, knocking Marchiafava down and rolling over her, according to court records. He then dragged her body before putting the car in drive and accelerating back into the parking spot, rolling over and dragging Marchiafava once again.
The woman suffered many broken bones, and some of her skin was sheared off from her tissues. Emergency responders took her to a New Orleans hospital for multiple surgeries, and she survived there for about a month before dying.
Marchiafava's son, Nunzio, filed a lawsuit in 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna seeking damages from the supermarket, Sarradet and a group of insurance companies, alleging negligence and wrongful death, among other things.
Nunzio Marchiafava and his attorneys, Rene Frederick and Douglas McGinity, eventually reached settlement agreements totaling more than $1.4 million with State Farm as well as Interstate Fire and Casualty. They opted to undergo a four-day trial against another insurance company, Torus, last week.
The State Farm and Interstate settlements called for the $1.4 million to count toward any damages the jury awarded to Marchiafava and his lawyers after the Torus trial.
Jurors on Thursday concluded that negligence by Sarradet caused Carrie Marchiafava's death and that Casey Jones was "vicariously liable" for its employee's actions, according to court records.
McGinity said his side suggested that jurors order Torus to pay $40 million in damages given the "spectacular pain" the incident caused both Carrie Marchiafava and her family, but the jury awarded only $700,000.
If it stands, that decision would mean no additional compensation for the plaintiff. Because of the earlier settlements, the jury award needed to be above $1.4 million for the plaintiff to get more than that.
McGinity said his side plans to ask Judge Adrian Adams to increase the award amount. McGinity said there also were a couple of inconsistencies with the verdict form that he would like Adams to "fix."
McGinity said his side is prepared to take the matter to the state 5th Circuit Court of Appeal if Adams turns them down.
McGinity said one problem with the jury's verdict form was that it indicated the store's managers were not negligent in Marchiafava's death -- but then it also deemed them 50 percent at fault.
The form also said Carrie Marchiafava demonstrated negligence but that it didn't cause the accident. It then said she was 5 percent at fault, with the rest of the blame given to Sarradet.
McGinity said all all those findings were "irreconcilable" with each other. He said he will push for Sarradet to be found 100 percent at fault.
"We're pleased that the jury found the defendant was liable, but ... the award was unreasonably low," McGinity said. "Every bone in her body was broken. She lived for a month with horrific injuries."
Attorneys for Torus did not respond to requests for comment Monday.
Casey Jones closed in 2014 after being in business for 50 years.