MODESTO -- The family of an off-duty Oakdale police officer killed in a car wreck last year filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Stanislaus Superior Court on Wednesday.
Paul Katuszonek, 30, died Nov. 8 when a tractor-trailer slammed into the back of his Honda just after he had stopped for a Caltrans worker in a construction zone on Highway 132 about a mile east of Faust Road.
Defendants listed in the complaint include the driver of the truck, Jose Santos Hermosillo, and his employer, Gold Star Foods Inc.; the California Department of Transportation; and partnering companies of both.
A Modesto law firm is representing Katuszonek's wife, Shannon Katuszonek, and their 1-year-old daughter, Ava.
The family is seeking an unspecified amount of damages, including punitive damages, for economic losses including the loss of financial support from Katuszonek's earnings, and funeral and burial expenses. The lawsuit also seeks compensation for emotional losses.
It claims that Hermosillo drove the truck recklessly and negligently because he was distracted, fatigued or otherwise impaired and that his trailer was not properly loaded.
The Bee was not able to reach Hermosillo for comment Thursday. The chief executive officer of Gold Star Foods, Dan Madsen, said he could not comment because neither he nor the company's attorney had reviewed the complaint.
Caltrans is listed in the lawsuit because the plaintiffs claim the agency didn't properly provide one-way controlled traffic and had equipment parked along the eastbound lane in which Katuszonek had stopped, which created a "hazardous condition."
A Caltrans spokesman also would not comment, citing pending litigation.
Bee staff writer Erin Tracy can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2366. Follow her on Twitter, @ModestoBeeCrime.