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  1. #1
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    Biker Sues for 2.9 Million


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    Senior Member Yellowbeard's Avatar
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    Ran into a gate? Ha, I almost did that once. Luckily I was spared embarrassment by my quick reflexes and the fact that no one saw.....oh wait.
    I'll eat it first.

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    Senior Member CNY James's Avatar
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    how the hell? this is everything that is wrong with our culture, where suing one for an insane amount of money over an incident where some personal responsibility could've avoided the entire situation actually works.

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    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    What lousy journalism.

    The short article left out all of the important facts like the extent of the plantiff's disability (if any) and the nature of the gate. On the surface that sounds like an excessive amount of money, but without the facts, who knows?

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    Senior Member jputnam's Avatar
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    What's usually left out of these half-researched articles is that the injured person is often simply cooperating with a lawsuit filed by their health insurance company to cover the cost of medical care.

    If you have health insurance, you probably have a contract that requires you to cooperate with the insurance company if they try to recover the cost of care they've paid for.

    4 broken vertebrae can easily mean massive ER and ICU expenses, long-term medical care, and significant long-term disability. $2.9 million doesn't seem out of line for that level of injury when you look at the cost of medical care these days.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jputnam/collections/72157604835074312/

  6. #6
    Dan J chinarider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CNY James View Post
    how the hell? this is everything that is wrong with our culture, where suing one for an insane amount of money over an incident where some personal responsibility could've avoided the entire situation actually works.
    See below.

    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    What lousy journalism.

    The short article left out all of the important facts like the extent of the plantiff's disability (if any) and the nature of the gate. On the surface that sounds like an excessive amount of money, but without the facts, who knows?
    Exactly. The article didn't tell us anything about the circumstances except that there was a gate. The assumption that the rider could have easily avoided the hazard may or may not be accurate. Apparently the jury that sat and actually heard the evidence didn't think so. Presumably the defendant had a competent lawyer to present their side. At to "personal responsibility," why not focus on the responsibility of the defendant which created the hazard found to be unreasonably dangerous.

    Regarding the "insane" amount of money, we don't know the extent of the plaintiff's injuries. Will she be in a wheelchair the rest of her life? Will she be able to work again? Will she be in constant pain? How much are the medical bills? Again, a jury that heard the evidence concluded that this was an appropriate amount of compensation. And the Judge could reduce it if the amount wasn't supported by the evidence.

    Disclaimer: Yes, I'm a lawyer and I do handle this type of litigation, but more often on the side of the defendant than the plaintiff. At least in this neck of the woods, juries are quite conservative and don't give out big damages without reason.
    Last edited by chinarider; 05-11-10 at 08:18 AM.
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    How I handle myself in the control traveling be walking, running, biking or driving an automobile is the speed at which I am traveling with respect to the required braking to stop is influenced by the visual amount of information that is presented directly in front of me.

    This for the most part has prevented me from walking into closed doors. Hitting parked cars or driving through a gate. I view life is subject to change where as a stop sign maybe added to a road way and any other items may appear in path commonly traveled.

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    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    Let's say for the sake of argument that previously at the site of the accident there was no gate whatsoever, closed or otherwise. Maybe there wasn't even an open section of fence at this point on the trail/road. How would we fare headed down a hill on what we had every reason to believe was a public thoroughfare if someone had place a closed gate around a blind curve. Consider a dark shaded spot, a rusted or dark gate, etc. Yes, we're responsible for our own actions, but a prudent constructor of said gate on a known mountain biking road might have erected a sign 100 yards before the gate.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Suppose the "gate" consisted of a steel cable strung across the trail.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    Suppose the "gate" consisted of a steel cable strung across the trail.
    Not impossible, but something like a single bar, perhaps 1-1 1/2 feet above the ground so a bike can be lifted over it (while a car can not) is more likely (and perfect to go head first over). Seems a 'smart' solution, until one realizes under the right conditions such can be difficult to see.

    Things like this are pretty common on the entryways to many of the bike paths that parallel store drains here in Los Angeles. But with once crucial difference to this case (it seems). The barriers are at points where a bike would be stoping anyway. The ones I remember are mainly at the top of ramps going up to street level.

  11. #11
    Dances With Cars TRaffic Jammer's Avatar
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    The biker was awarded 2.9 million by a jury, she was willing to settle for less according to the article, but they refused, and got burned big time. I do like how they mention she was found partially responsible as well. 8 years in court? Jesus.

  12. #12
    Senior Member cnnrmccloskey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TRaffic Jammer View Post
    8 years in court? Jesus.
    Can't imagine that was cheap either
    Quote Originally Posted by Braden1550 View Post
    Monocoque unicycles with internal gear hubs, ridden by extortionists with an excellent sense of balance.

    You'll see. Unless you drilled out your eyes because they were too heavy.

  13. #13
    Dan J chinarider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by onesidedcoin View Post
    How I handle myself in the control traveling be walking, running, biking or driving an automobile is the speed at which I am traveling with respect to the required braking to stop is influenced by the visual amount of information that is presented directly in front of me.

    This for the most part has prevented me from walking into closed doors. Hitting parked cars or driving through a gate. I view life is subject to change where as a stop sign maybe added to a road way and any other items may appear in path commonly traveled.
    Are you saying it's impossible for you to be involved in an accident that's not entirely your own fault and, at least to some extent, the fault of some other party?
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by chinarider View Post
    Are you saying it's impossible for you to be involved in an accident that's not entirely your own fault and, at least to some extent, the fault of some other party?
    No... that's why I stated for the most part. But I was taught and teach my kids to be aware of your surroundings and don't assume to may things while taking responsibility for your actions.
    Last edited by onesidedcoin; 05-11-10 at 12:02 PM. Reason: spelling

  15. #15
    Dan J chinarider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by onesidedcoin View Post
    No... that's why I stated for the most part.
    Not to get into a pissing match, but in that case I'm not sure what the point of your original post was as it seemed to imply that the lawsuit was frivolous by it's very nature.

    But I was taught and teach my kids to be aware of your surroundings and don't assume to may things while taking responsibility for your actions.
    I have no problem with that, but that doesn't mean others should not be held accountable for their actions when they create unreasonable risks resulting in injuries to third parties.
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  16. #16
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Note this:
    Stratton said Blonski had offered to settle the case for less than the amount awarded by the jury, but MDC refused.
    Juries are funny that way sometimes.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

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    Banned. $ick3nin.vend3t's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by onesidedcoin View Post
    Biker Sues for 2.9 Million
    Did she die?.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by chinarider View Post
    Not to get into a pissing match, but in that case I'm not sure what the point of your original post was as it seemed to imply that the lawsuit was frivolous by it's very nature.



    I have no problem with that, but that doesn't mean others should not be held accountable for their actions when they create unreasonable risks resulting in injuries to third parties.
    If you or I or for that matter our families are injured as example by a drunk driver or let say pined by a non maintained or poorly designed elevator door, than there should be a pursuit.

    I do not believe that a given area of land who in this case is a reservoir with the staff who run the place main job is to supply water. And just because it has an attribute that by nature the areas terrain that can suit bikers.hikes,etc is responsible.

    If I paid for admission for such an area who focus was hiking, biking etc with designed trails that would be a different story.

  19. #19
    Dan J chinarider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by onesidedcoin View Post
    I do not believe that a given area of land who in this case is a reservoir with the staff who run the place main job is to supply water. And just because it has an attribute that by nature the areas terrain that can suit bikers.hikes,etc is responsible.

    If I paid for admission for such an area who focus was hiking, biking etc with designed trails that would be a different story.
    Well, the area was a recreation area, not just a reservoir. And we don't know from the article whether any admission fee was paid. But regardless, if the entity running the area knows it is used for biking and constructed the gate in such a way that it created an unnecessary & unreasonable risk (which is assume, since that's what the jury which heard all the evidence apparently found), I think it should be held accountable.

    Assuming, as the jury also found, that the plaintiff was partially responsible, that should not let the defendant off the hook. Since the jury made that finding, I assume the damage award was reduced proportionately to her percentage of fault. At least, that's the way it would normally work. To me, that seems like a fair way to resolve the issue when both sides have some fault (in many states, a plaintiff would recover nothing if he/she was found to be more than 50% at fault, even if the defendant was also found to be at fault).
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  20. #20
    Dan J chinarider's Avatar
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    One more comment and then I'll shut up. As a lawyer, the uninformed, knee jerk reaction of many upon hearing of a big verdict that the lawsuit was frivolous, that the jury was nuts, that the jury system is a lottery, that personal responsibility is the answer, etc., etc. is one of my pet peeves (along with advocating 220-age for MHR, but that's another thread. Mod: is that enough connection to biking?)

    The poster child of the frivolous lawsuit-tort reform is the answer gang is the McDonalds coffee case. I'm sure you are all familiar with it. But how many are really familiar with the facts of the case? If you are intellectually honest and curious enough to have an open mind on the subject read this. Keep this in mind the next time you hear about an "insane" jury verdict.
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  21. #21
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by *****3nin.vend3t View Post
    Did she die?.
    No, but she was seriously hurt. Read jputnam's explanation above.

    It doesn't necessarily imply she'll keep all that money.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chinarider View Post
    Well, the area was a recreation area, not just a reservoir. And we don't know from the article whether any admission fee was paid. But regardless, if the entity running the area knows it is used for biking and constructed the gate in such a way that it created an unnecessary & unreasonable risk (which is assume, since that's what the jury which heard all the evidence apparently found), I think it should be held accountable.

    Assuming, as the jury also found, that the plaintiff was partially responsible, that should not let the defendant off the hook. Since the jury made that finding, I assume the damage award was reduced proportionately to her percentage of fault. At least, that's the way it would normally work. To me, that seems like a fair way to resolve the issue when both sides have some fault (in many states, a plaintiff would recover nothing if he/she was found to be more than 50% at fault, even if the defendant was also found to be at fault).
    I should have stated that I am familiar and have been expose to the area on and off since about the mid 70s. It was a place where teenagers would ride to, burn up a summer day while doing nothing but hanging out. No swimming or anything like that. There is no admission and not a lot has change from the era of riding a French bike in my youth there expect the use on MTB on dirt paths and looks to be 911 safety restrictions in the filtering area also more gray hair folks than I remember growing up . It’s a place with some paved and dirt paths that date back many years. I maybe mistaken but I think they stopped cars from going through the paved area in the early 70s and I think that’s when the gates came into play. One just walks or rides around them.

  23. #23
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    That article truly sucked.

    I'd like to know:

    1. How badly was she injured?
    2. What sort of 'gate' was it? Visibly marked, or stealth-grey steel?
    3. Any prior notice in any form of the media that there was something going on there, like construction?
    4. Was she wearing a helmet? (LOL!!!!)

    I think they teach you to relate stuff like that in journalism school... I know they USED to.

  24. #24
    Dan J chinarider's Avatar
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    Found a little better description of the accident (at the Eastern Bloc Cycling Club forum):

    Racking my brain trying to figure out where she could have possibly run into a closed fence, I stumbled across an earlier decision related to the suit. And, within the decision, the court summarizes the fact that she was on "red road" (which I think is the color of the main road that circles the reservoir). Possibility #1: If you are at the old main parking lot, and head west a 1/4 mile down the road, before you start up the paved hill, there use to be, and may still be, a gate, which they open/close ever so often. She may have been speeding down the hill (counter-clockwise), and ran into that gate at the bottom of the hill (??). Anyway, here is the part of the decision that supplies more of the facts . . .

    (Oct. 17, 2008)
    The plaintiff alleges that she was at the West Hartford Reservoir/Talcott Mountain State Park for the purpose of mountain biking on one of the trails which permitted mountain biking at this reservoir. She alleges that while riding the mountain bike on Red Road she saw a closed gate and she was caused to hit her head on the gate due to the unsafe and dangerous condition of the bike trail. She alleges that said bike trail was in an unsafe and dangerous condition due to the gate being closed with no sign posting that it was closed on that date. The plaintiff alleges that her injuries were caused by the negligence and carelessness of the defendant MDC or the negligence of its agents, servants and employees. She alleges that the gate which was usually open was closed at the time of the incident with no signs regarding the closed gate and that MDC failed to protect the patrons who were mountain biking to keep away from the closed gate and that it failed to erect tape guards and/or barriers to protect patrons from the closed gate, in that it failed to post signs stating that the gate was closed on May 16, 2002, therefore, making it difficult to become knowledgeable that said gate was closed and making it an unsafe and dangerous condition. She further alleges that as a result of the negligence and carelessness of the defendant MDC, its agents, servants or employees she was badly injured.


    Sounds like the gate was normally open, but was closed on this occasion. If, as the writer surmises, it was at the bottom of a hill, I think that is a problem. Still don't know how steep the hill was or how visible the gate would have been or how far in advance it would have been visible.
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  25. #25
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    I to question how a gate was unseen, from my point of view the gates are in plan sight. I am guessing here but the roads were built way back when so trucks with limited turning radius could gain access. The size of the gate span is an oversize one car road way.

    She was at a speed during the time of impact that created an inability for her to stop in time for a large item as this gate what if it had been something smaller like a group of kids. Speed is an item a rider should have control of as we share the road

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