$2,650,000 SETTLEMENT - DANGEROUS ROAD CAUSES DEATH OF FEMALE JOGGER

On a warm summer afternoon, a 34-year-old mother of three was jogging with her family on Patterson Pass Road between Tracy and Livermore in Alameda County. Her two teenage sons, both on a high school track team, were slightly ahead of her running on the side of the road when suddenly a speeding Ford F 450 truck came around the corner, went out of control and off the road on the opposite side and then shot across the road and crashed into the mother, causing her death. The truck was driven by an uninsured 19 year old on his way home. It appeared as if there would be no recovery for the family.

The case was referred to our law firm and we immediately attempted to find a financially responsible party for the wrongful death. We contended that Patterson Pass Road was in a dangerous condition because of the inadequate width, lack of shoulders, no centerline and no curve warning signs before the curve where the driver lost control. Through extensive discovery, we proved there were a high number of accidents on the road much greater than the statewide average. We proved that the volume of traffic increased dramatically from 700 vehicles per day to 3,600 vehicles per day in the previous years, yet no road improvements were made. Alameda County contended there had only been one previous accident at the curve and that the accident was caused by the teenage truck driver's speeding at 75 mph when he lost control of his truck. We defeated the County's Motion for Summary Judgment and the case proceeded to trial against Alameda County.

We also sued the employer of the uninsured truck driver who claimed that the driver was not working that day and was on a personal trip home when the accident occurred. We were able to defeat this defense and get insurance coverage for the teenage driver, by proving that the foreman for the company, the 19 year old's father, had asked his son to perform a special task that day for his company and he was carrying company tools and equipment in his truck. Under the "incidental benefit rule" as stated in a recent Appellate Court decision, we proved that the entire trip from his home and back to his home was covered by his employer's insurance policy because he was on a "special errand" for his employer. We defeated the employer's Summary Judgment Motion a week before the trial was to begin. The case then settled at mediation for $2,650,000 shortly before the start of the trial.