Annette Montero with son Kenny Jr. and a family friendPhoto courtesy of Cindy Berkenmeier

Jury Hits Sanipac Owner With Liability For Homeless Woman’s Death


The daughter of a homeless woman who was killed in the early morning hours of August 26, 2019, when a Sanipac garbage truck backed over her while she slept in a Eugene alleyway, won a $360,000 verdict in Lane County Circuit Court Friday afternoon, Sept. 15, from the corporation that owns Sanipac.

Annette Montero, 57, died instantly when the back wheels of the truck crushed her head as she lay sleeping in a bright red sleeping bag next to a trash container near 12th Avenue and Oak Street.

Lorraine Baldi, Montero’s daughter, filed the wrongful death lawsuit as the personal representative of her mother’s estate on March 2, 2022. The case went to trial on Sept. 6.

Kevin Yolken, a lawyer who represented the daughter in court, says the jury’s verdict established that Waste Connections U.S., a Texas corporation that is the third largest garbage hauler in North America, bore most of the responsibility for Montero’s death. “Their driver was negligent in failing to keep a lookout,” he says, adding that Montero was “clearly visible” for seven seconds in the truck’s back-up camera before she was run over.

The jury decided that Montero, who had suffered for years from mental illness, bore 28 percent of the responsibility for her own death, thus reducing the original $500,000 award to $360,000, Yolken says.

The attorney adds that Waste Connections might have reduced the award had it acknowledged liability from the beginning. “Just recognizing they were at fault would have gone a long way,” he says.

The truck driver, Todd Andrew Baker, was named as a defendant in the original lawsuit but was later dropped from the case. Yolken said there was no indication of malice or ill will on the driver’s part. “The liability is really on the employer,” he says. “We hope that this company will take their role in safety a little more seriously.”

Editor’s note: The late Art Johnson, one of the owners of Eugene Weekly, and his son Derek Johnson are principals in Johnson Johnson Lucas & Middleton, where Kevin Yolken is an associate.

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