Thousand Oaks family awarded $12.5 million for bicyclist-dad's death by auto
Article Last Updated: 11/03/2007 10:46:54 AM PDT
SIMI VALLEY, Calif. - A jury has awarded $12.5 million to the family of a bicyclist who was struck and killed by a car driven by a woman who had just been diagnosed with "dense" cataracts in both eyes.
A Ventura County Superior Court panel ruled Friday in a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the motorist on behalf of Glenn Garvin's wife and two sons.
Garvin, 49, of Thousand Oaks was struck from behind while riding in a bicycle lane along Westlake Boulevard on Sept. 16, 2006.
The new Lexus that hit him was driven by 82-year-old Norma Seigel of Thousand Oaks, who recently had learned she had cataracts.
She also had been involved in another rear-end crash six months earlier.
Seigel acknowledged before the trial that she was responsible for Garvin's death so the accident's cause wasn't an issue in the case. Instead, the trial focused on monetary damages.
Jonathan Light, president of the Ventura County Bar Association, said he believes the jury's award was large partly because Garvin had a large annual income - future earnings the family will no longer receive. Garvin was an endodontist who earned about $746,633 in 2006, according to the lawsuit.
"There was a loss of life. That's a big deal," Light said.
Mark Hiepler, the Garvins' attorney, said Seigel has insurance and assets, and another court hearing will determine whether it will be enough to satisfy the judgment.
Garvin was a volunteer city traffic safety commissioner who "taught and lived bicycle
safety," said his wife, Pamela.
In a prepared statement, she made reference to another elderly driver who was involved in a deadly crash in 2003.
George Russell Weller was 86 when his car plowed through a street market in Santa Monica, killing 10 people and injuring more than 70.
Pamela Garvin said her husband's death and those at the market "were all preventable and teach us that we must individually take responsibility for those we love, whether elderly or young, who should not be driving."
The wrongful death trial lasted seven days in Superior Court in Simi Valley.