Venued in Santa Clara County Superior Court, Michael Kelly, Matthew Davis and Andrew McDevitt represented a 47-year-old tech company VP who sustained paralyzing injuries when struck by a left-turning car while bicycling on the path of a popular Peninsula bike route. Eight years earlier a local newspaper labeled the location where the crash occurred as one of the most dangerous intersections in the county for bicyclists. In response, the City asked its on-call traffic engineers to propose changes to improve safety. A modification plan was proposed and, following review by State of California engineers, was thereafter revised by two engineering firms. Modifications pursuant to the approved design were completed in 2012. Plaintiff’s injury occurred two years later.
In addition to the car driver, plaintiff sued the two government entities that owned the roadway, and all of the engineering firms involved in the re-design. Four of the five defendants brought motions for summary judgment. The public entities argued design immunity. The engineering firms asked the court to find that they owed no duty to plaintiff based on the ‘completed and accepted’ doctrine. Plaintiff argued that the intersection remained dangerous after the improvements because defendants skipped the most critical step in the analysis – review of the accident history to identify the underlying causes of the collisions. As a result of this omission, plaintiff claimed that the redesign fixed a non-existent problem and left the intersection in a dangerous condition such that left-turning cars could not see oncoming bicyclists lawfully traveling in the designated bike lane. After three failed mediations, the case settled for nearly $8 million at a judicially supervised settlement conference on the eve of trial.