Cal Trans auto accident 2018-06-28T08:02:47+00:00

5.2 Million Dollar Settlement-CalTrans 

Published in Verdicts & Settlements—September 22, 2014

RESULT DATE: March 31, 2014

PREMISES LIABILITY- Dangerous Condition of Public Property

PLAINTIFF CLAIMED FLOODING ON ROADWAY CAUSED ACCIDENT
MEDIATED SETTLEMENT:  $5,265,000
CASE: Michael Thiry and Karen Thiry v. State of California, Ibrahim Aldridge, and Does 1 through 50 (SCV 251518)
COURT: Superior Court of Sonoma County, Santa Rosa
NEUTRAL: Hon. Edward A. Panelli through JAMS is a former CA Supreme Court Justice
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY(S)–Michael A. Fiumara (formerly Law Offices of Michael A. Fiumara, now FIUMARA & MILLIGAN LAW, PC, Santa Rosa).
Tad S. Shapiro (Shapiro, Galvin, Shapiro & Moran, Santa Rosa);
 
DEFENSE ATTORNEY(S)Timothy P. Murphy, Edrington, Schirmer & Murphy LLP, Pleasant Hill, CA (Ibrahim Aldridge);  Patrick Petersen, Karl H. Schmidt both representing the Department of Transportation, Legal Division, San Francisco, CA (State of California)
Michael Thiry and Karen Thiry sued the State of California and Ibrahim Aldridge.
PLAINTIFF’S CONTENTIONS: Plaintiffs alleged Aldridge was driving on a highway, at a time when it had been raining for about two days, and lost control of his vehicle when he drove into water that had flooded the road. Plaintiffs further alleged that Aldridge’s vehicle hydroplaned and crashed into Michael Thiry’s truck, which then forced Michael’s truck to crash into an emergency call box.
Plaintiffs alleged that, in addition to Aldridge’s negligence, the State of California caused a dangerous condition on the road where the accident took place because it knew that the areas was often subject to flooding, but failed to remedy the condition and failed to warn the public of the unsafe condition.
DEFENDANT’S CONTENTIONS: Aldridge argued that the accident was caused by the State of California’s failure to warn of a dangerous condition. Caltrans argued that it had no notice of frequent flooding and that Aldridge’s driving at an unsafe speed in the rain caused the accident.
INJURIES: Michael Thiry alleged that as a result of the accident he suffered a number of fractures, including fractures to his ankles, heels, foot, femur, and hip. He subsequently underwent three open surgeries in the first three weeks after the crash, was hospitalized for the first 30 days after the accident, and had a morphine pain pump implanted.
DAMAGES: Michael Thiry argued that he suffered $4,020,000 in damages from past and future medical costs and past and future loss of earnings. In addition he argued for pain and suffering damages, while Karen Thiry alleged loss of consortium damages.
RESULT: The parties settled the case for a total of $5,265,000, whereby Aldridge agreed to pay $15,000 and Caltrans agreed to pay $5,250,000.
PLAINTIFF COUNSEL’S COMMENTARY: Lawsuits make a difference in changing public policy and eliminating dangerous public conditions—making our roadways safer.  CLICK here to view the TWO VIDEOS taken below in January of 2017 of the roadway (where the accident occurred) now finally being raised 10 feet almost 6 years after the March 20, 2011 accident preventing the flooding of the busy 101 Highway corridor in this location.
 VIDEO 1 Northbound
 VIDEO 2 Northbound

PLAINTIFF’S COUNSEL SUCCESSFULLY ARGUED—That the documents produced in discovery showed that the site of the serious accident in question frequently flooded (yet there were no signs, but now they have been installed) and that flooding was a product of heavy rainfall in the area, as high tides in San Pablo Bay influence the flow of water in San Antonio Creek, causing debris and silt from the creek to overflow onto the property adjacent to the highway, into inadequate and poorly maintained culverts at the intersection, and onto the highway.

PLAINTIFF’S COUNSEL also successfully argued and persuaded the neutral mediator that the State’s own hydrology files from the California Department of Transportation in the 1980’s showed a history of concern about the flooding at the same location of this accident. Counsel provided evidence that CALTRAN’S then acting director recommended that the roadway be raised at the intersection to eliminate the flooding problem, but that this solution was not funded!

PLAINTIFF’S COUNSEL also produced a preliminary drainage report prepared by the State in 2006 very critical of the maintenance of the drainage facilities at the site of the accident and the capacity of the existing culverts to handle the foreseeable storms.  Counsel further provided evidence that Caltrans was aware of significant flooding in the same location as Mr. Thiry’s accident six to ten times in a 30-year period preceding the accident and that standing water of at least several inches to a foot or more accumulated on the southbound lanes (where Mr. Aldridge hydroplaned out of control into Mr. Thiry’s northbound vehicle) of highway 101 several times each year.

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First and foremost, we have an interest in representing seriously injured individuals and their family members who have been wronged by insurance carriers and governmental entities. In this case, it is clear that Caltrans did not maintain the drainage system, the culverts and the roadway in a responsible and safe manner which greatly contributed to Mr. Thiry’s serious bodily injuries.

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