Jury awards $9.5 million in wrongful death case of Holyoke teacher struck while walking her dog

Zoe Rosenthal was in a crosswalk when she was hit by a driver in 2017.

A Hampden County jury on Friday awarded $9.5 million to the family of a Holyoke teacher, who died in 2017 after she was struck by a driver while walking her dog.

The jury awarded $3 million each to the surviving daughters of Zoe Rosenthal, along with $1 million for the pain and suffering Rosenthal endured, the family’s attorneys announced. Another $2.5 million was awarded for pre-judgment interest.

On Nov. 27, 2017, Rosenthal, 52, was walking her dog a few blocks away from her home when she was struck while in a crosswalk by a truck driven by Charles J. Davignon, of Holyoke.

According to the family’s legal team, Davignon made a left turn when he hit Rosenthal, who was knocked to the ground and hit her head on the pavement.

She was brought to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield where a CT scan showed she suffered a skull fracture and a brain hemorrhage.

She died from her injuries two days later on Nov. 29.

“It’s an honor to see two wonderful daughters finally get justice,” attorney Nicholas Rowley said in a statement. “For the last three years, the defendant refused to take responsibility for their mother’s death. That changed during this trial. This trial was necessary because the insurance company acted irresponsibly and cheaply. Now they’ll have to face the consequences.”

Rowley and Benjamin Novotny of Trial Lawyers for Justice and Charlotte Glinka and Karen Zahka of Milton-based Keches Law Group represented Rosenthal’s family during the three-day trial.

An ophthalmologist, in expert testimony on behalf of the plaintiffs, said Davignon had an impairment in his left eye that could have impacted his ability to see Rosenthal as he was approaching the intersection.


Rosenthal worked at The Literacy Project in Northampton, a program that teaches English and math to students of all ages and backgrounds, according to The Daily Hampshire Gazette.

“She was a great mom and she makes me want to be the best mom I can be” Tiffany Castillo, one of Rosenthal’s two daughters, said in her testimony.

Davignon said he had no comment on the verdict when reached by a reporter Monday morning.

In a Facebook post, Rowley, whose Iowa-based firm specializes in wrongful death lawsuits, wrote that a court clerk told him the verdict is “a record non-economic damages verdict for wrongful death with adult heirs in Western Massachusetts.”

“I hope and pray that someday insurance companies start treating victims and families fairly,” he wrote.

So proud to have represented Tiffany and Chelsea and uncover the truth of what happened to their Mom and show the…

Posted by Nicholas Rowley on Friday, April 23, 2021

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