San Bernardino Jury Returns $31.5 Million Verdict Finding a Dangerous Condition on State Route 138

Jul 19, 2012, 20:58 ET from Shernoff Bidart Echeverria Bentley LLP

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif., July 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- A jury awarded a catastrophically injured man and his wife more than $31.5 million Thursday in a verdict rendered against Caltrans and a left-turning motorist.  The jury found the state agency responsible for a dangerous roadway condition on a section of California State Route 138.

The accident occurred at the intersection of SR138 and Mountain Road on April 29, 2009, causing severe brain and spinal cord injuries to David Evans.  As a result of his injuries, Evans will require 24-hour nursing care for the rest of his life.  Evans and his wife, both career prosecutors with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office prior to the incident, sued the state for failing to remedy the dangerous condition, as well as the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident.

David Evans was riding his motorcycle eastbound on SR138 when he was struck by an oncoming vehicle making an illegal, unsafe left turn at Mountain Road.  The evidence established this "skewed intersection" caused vehicles routinely to "cut the corner" in an attempt to "beat the gap" in front of oncoming vehicles.  Witness testimony and California Highway Patrol documents established there were ten prior accidents at this location.  Caltrans' Chief of Operations received a citizen complaint regarding this dangerous intersection eighteen months prior to the accident.  The jury concluded that Caltrans failed to protect against the dangerous condition by failing to install pylons to prevent drivers from cutting the corner which Caltrans knew was posing a substantial risk of injury to the community.

The Evans were represented by Gregory L. Bentley and Danica Dougherty of Shernoff Bidart Echeverria Bentley LLP, and Robert A. Parris of R. Rex Parris Law Firm.  The jury found Caltrans 15% responsible, and the left-turning driver 85% responsible, in their multi-million dollar verdict.

David Evans' attorney Gregory L. Bentley states "We are very pleased that the jury concluded that this is a dangerous condition.  State Route 138 needs to be changed for public safety.  We're confident that Caltrans will listen to the jury and make the appropriate corrections," explaining that a public entity may be held liable for failing to protect or provide adequate safeguards against a dangerous condition that exposed users to increased danger from third party negligence – especially when the entity had actual and constructive notice.

"It is important that Caltrans fix problems they know exist.  Public safety should be paramount," stated Robert A. Parris.  Despite the numerous accidents and the complaint submitted by the local resident, plaintiffs contended that Caltrans took no steps to protect against this dangerous condition.

"With this verdict, we are pleased that David will now be able to receive the medical care that he needs, and are hopeful that Caltrans will also fix this dangerous condition," added Bentley.

The case is Evans v. State of CA, number CIVVS1002497, in the Superior Court of the State of California for the county of San Bernardino.

SOURCE Shernoff Bidart Echeverria Bentley LLP