Skip to comments.Money Will Be Used for Women's Lifelong Care [$50MM Settlement from city of Dana Point]
Posted on 11/28/2007 8:13:31 PM PST by BenLurkin
Dana Point (KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO) -- In one of the biggest legal settlements in Orange County history, the city of Dana Point has agreed to pay a total of more than $49 million dollars to two women who were made quadriplegics when they were hit by a car while jogging along Pacific Coast Highway.
The deal was announced just before the lawsuit brought by 35-year-old Stacy Neria and 42-year-old Carol Daniel (shown on KNX main page) -- both mothers of three who live in San Clemente -- was set to go to trial on Tuesday.
They had alleged that the road was unsafe in the area where they were hit because the bike lane was too wide -- possibly causing drivers to mistake it for another lane -- and improperly marked. The city has since added concrete barriers protecting joggers and bicyclists.
The two women were struck on April 8th of last year by motorist William Todd Bradshaw, who fled the scene. Bradshaw, who had three previous drunk-driving convictions, was arrested several days later -- and then convicted and sentenced to four years in prison.
Daniel and Neria had been jogging with two other women in the bicycle lane on the northbound side of PCH, when they were struck.
Daniel was thrown about 60 feet, breaking her neck and pelvis and nearly severing one of her legs. Neria suffered a fractured skull, broken legs and a broken pelvis, nose and cheek. Both women are now quadriplegics. The other two women were not injured.
"It's a bittersweet result for both women and their families," said Daniel J. Callahan, the women's attorney. "They're pleased that they're going to have the ability to take care of themselves into the future. But their lives were forever changed."
The city's insurer, the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority, oversaw the settlement discussions, Dana Point officials said. The settlement will be paid in a lump sum from four policies, Callahan said.
Mark P. Robinson Jr., a prominent tort lawyer in Orange County, said there have been many personal injury cases settled in the $20-million range in recent years. "It certainly ranks as one of the top settlements in the county," he said.
Robinson is perhaps best known for helping to win a $127-million verdict for a boy badly burned when the gas tank of the Ford Pinto he was riding in exploded in 1978.
In Orange County, the biggest single settlement is probably the $420 million that Merrill Lynch & Co. agreed to pay in 1998 for its role in the county's 1994 bankruptcy.
City Attorney A. Patrick Munoz said the settlement was a compromise for the city, which had maintained that its roads were safe. "Our view is the real wrongdoer is Mr. Bradshaw," he said. "We only hope the money will help these ladies with their lifelong needs."
Munoz said the agreement should not be construed as an admission of fault by the city, but rather is being offered in the hopes the money "will aid in a better quality of life for both women and their families."
Three months after the women were struck, the City Council approved spending $350,000 to install a wall between car traffic and bicyclists and joggers along that section of road between Camino Capistrano and Palisades Drive. The city faces two other lawsuits filed by the families of bikers killed along the same stretch of PCH later in 2006.
During discovery, Callahan found that the city's master plan for bike lanes stated that no lane shall be more than 8 feet wide.
"Except this orphan stretch of roadway . . . varied from 9 to 12 feet," he said. "And it wasn't marked as a bike lane. We had an oversized bike lane, the same width as a travel lane with no signs. This was an accident waiting to happen."
Callahan said the city had a report that people were inadvertently driving in the bike lanes in 2002 in a previous case he handled. An expert at that time testified the lanes were unsafe but the city failed to do anything, according to depositions of public works officials in the Neria and Daniel case, he said.
"All they had to do was get a can of paint and stencil little bike figures in the bike lane and drivers would have known there was a bike lane," Callahan said.
City officials could not be reached late Tuesday to address Callahan's contentions about the previous case.
"It's our understanding that there never was a dangerous condition out there," Munoz said. "We created a bike lane that goes north and south and is protected by K-rails."
Dana Point Mayor Diane Harkey said the settlement will "help provide a better quality of life for the two survivors."
"This was a really sad accident," she said. "It upset two families and it's just a shame that the guy driving was a criminal," referring to Bradshaw's three previous drunk driving convictions.
Mowed down outside the traveled way by an alledgedly driver who fled the scene and the taxpayers get stuck with the bill!
wow. how does one live with himself?
And the driver gets four years in prison for his fourth drunken driving offense, fleeing the scene of the accident, and entirely crippling two women. No aggravated assault by auto, nothing else they can bring against him?
About 15 years ago, someone ran my cousin off the road and disappeared. She’s paraplegic with very limited use of arms and had to work very very hard to get that limited use or even hold herself upright.
Hit and run drunk drivers ought to go away for a very long time.
I always wonder about these alcohol related accidents. The state wants the sales tax from the sales of the beverages involved.
So, drunk-driving will continue.
The Judge that let him out after his three priors should be disbarred for life and serve 3 to 5 for Judicial Negligence.
The attorney will be able to take care of himself, too, with his probable $12 million to $22 million cut.
I know that's not the point of the article, and I don't mean to hijack the thread, but the thought crossed my mind.
Kind of like tobacco taxes?
But I am alarmed that these women, who were apparently very much aware of the “safety hazard” essentially won their State Lotto via a lawsuit.
(not implying they actively sought injury)
Future taxpayers will pay that particular tab.
I’m very familiar with that section of PCH and those ladies should not have been jogging on the street. That is a bicycle lane not a jogging track. In fact the accident could have been avoided if the ladies had been properly cited for illegal jaywalking before the event. I fail to see how the citizens of Dana Point should be held financially culpable for the stupid and illegal actions of others.
Amen to that.
The city council of Dana Point should be fired by the citizens of Dana Point for their weakness and irresponsibility in granting such an oversize award to these ladies.
They were jogging on a very dangerous highway where they should never have been.
Not that they should not have some type of award. But this is just plain stupid!
You made a very pertinent observation, if you ask me.
“That is a bicycle lane not a jogging track. In fact the accident could have been avoided if the ladies had been properly cited for illegal jaywalking before the event.”
The bike trails on our area are multi-use (biking, walking, jogging, roller blading etc). Of course we have curbs and a stretch of grass between us and the roads. Unless it was clearly stated that jogging is not permitted on the bike trail, then the women were doing nothing wrong.
I was almost run over by idiots on four wheelers who were racing on the road and bike trail (had to be at least eight of them with two across on the bike trail). I stepped off the bike trail when I saw them coming into the grass between the bike trail and the road. If I had been going the other direction I would have never seen them.
Sorry they were hurt, but why does the City have to pay?
I'm sick of them running stop signs and red lights when they deem the coast is clear.
They are very selective as to which laws they choose to obey and those they scoff at.
I can't walk the pedestrian paths in our city without constantly looking over my shoulder for some "Lance Armstrong wannabe" hurtling towards me, bent over their handlebars, pumping to the music eminating from their MP3 players stuck in their ears.
I've been clipped twice by these speedsters and they've blamed me for getting in their way.
It looks like the unintended consequence of government doing things it was never ment to do. Government provides for the general peace (police and fire) and provides roadways for “commerce”. They also provide water and sewer for public health. Each of those services has a long and defined history when it comes to liability and obligation.
Now cities are providing “recreational/leisure services”. If you get get a golfball to the head; the city course was not safe enough. If your child gets hurt in a baseball game at city park, the city failed to supervise. Its time that cities look at the true cost of any service they provide and base their decision to provide service on a worst scenario of liberal judges and inventive trial lawyers.
The city can easily recoup the money by eliminating recreational services... Its like a traffic ticket. If it hurts your life style, you change your behavior.
I feel really sorry for these women, but I don’t think the city was at fault. I doubt that narrower lanes would have made a difference to the guy who hit them. I do wonder why they were jogging in a bike lane in the first place.
These two women are friends of my daughter and believe me, they have not won the lottery. Just the opposite. They have small children and one of them has serious brain damage. The other is not much better.
Their families have been devastated and the medical costs are astronomical. I know you aren’t a mean person and don’t take your comments that way, but they have that appearance.
This is so unbelievably tragic, it’s hard to even describe. The money will help in their 24-hour a day care, but trust me, they’d pay that amount if they could, to have this whole thing not to have happened.
We have a few of those around here, but in general the bikers are pretty good. I always run to the far right next to the grass with the dog in front of me or on the grass.
Unless it was clearly stated that jogging is not permitted on the bike trail, then the women were doing nothing wrong.”
I truly believe there is a vast difference between a “bike trail” and a “bike lane” associated with a paved driving lane for vehicles.