Nissan Ordered to Pay $25 Million Nearly 5 Years After Deadly Crash

The 2012 crash left a mother and two daughters dead

Solomon Mathenge was the driver who rammed into a mother and her two daughters one early morning in Hollywood in August of 2012. The crash killed Saida Mendez and her two young daughters, Hilda and Stephanie.

"Three people died in that accident," Solomon Mathenge said. "The question is why."

Last Friday, a jury answered his question, ruling that the Nissan car company must pay $25 million to the families involved in the collision because Solomon Mathenge's car had a faulty braking system.

Solomon Mathenge was initially charged with manslaughter, until the district attorney found out about his Infinity QX56 SUV's braking problem.

"The Cruz family, a mother and two daughters, lost their lives," said Michael Mathenge, Solomon Mathenge's son. "That's what we want everybody to know, and that it was Nissan's fault and they had a chance to recall (the vehicle) and they didn't do it.

Infinity - Nissan's parent company - denies there was anything wrong with the braking system and argued in court that Solomon Mathenge mistakenly hit the gas pedal instead of the brake.

"Nissan is disappointed with the verdict and will assess its options for next steps, including appeal," the company said in a statement to NBC4. "While we are deeply sympathetic to the families affected, Nissan believes the evidence clearly shows that the Infiniti QX56 was not cause of this unfortunate accident."

Solomon Mathenge says he wishes the federal government would step in, considering that the verdict does not require Nissan to do anything except pay the families involved.

Attorney Paul Kiesel said the jury stopped short of levying punitive damages to the auto manufacturer, but that Nissan should take the $25 million judgment as a call to action.

"They still have the opportunity, and quite frankly, the obligation - in my view - to bring these vehicles back and to repair them now," Kiesel said.

Nissan, however, says it believes in the integrity of its braking system, meaning that the vehicles in question - 2004 to 2008 Nissan Titans and Armadas, and the Infinity QX56 SUV - are still on the road.

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