A Menlo Park family is suing a motorist and a number of public agencies, including Menlo Park and Atherton, for negligence and the "dangerous condition of public property" as a result of 2011 accident that injured teenager Courtney Schrier.
Courtney's mother, Elizabeth Schrier, filed a lawsuit in San Mateo County Superior Court late last month on behalf of her daughter, who is a minor.
The lawsuit names the motorist who on July 26, 2011, struck Courtney in a crosswalk on El Camino Real at Alejandra Avenue. It also names the state of California and San Mateo County in addition to the two towns.
Courtney, who at the time was on the girls' cross-country team at Sacred Heart Prep in Atherton, was struck around 8:30 that morning by a BMW driven by Ranjit Pradhan. According to witnesses, she was thrown into the air by the car before landing on the ground and losing consciousness.
Pradhan was not arrested or cited at the time of the accident, according to Menlo Park Police Sgt. Matthew Ortega.
With a broken pelvis and brain injury, Courtney was hospitalized for some time and now requires ongoing care, according to the lawsuit. She has been unable "to pursue her regular course and (regimen) of studies and athletics, and thus her choices of higher education have been reduced," the lawsuit says.
The Schriers are asking for unspecified damages "according to proof" and legal fees.
Because El Camino Real is a state highway, the state is named in the suit. The public agencies are included as defendants because one or more were "negligent and careless in the design, construction, maintenance, inspection, repair, and control" of the road at that intersection, the lawsuit says.
Atherton City Attorney Bill Conners said he believes the plaintiff is "using a shotgun approach" in naming the county and the towns. El Camino Real, he said, is state property. "We cannot maintain it" even if the towns wanted to, he said. "We don't own it; we can't control it."
There is still some question, too, about whether the accident happened in Atherton's or Menlo Park's jurisdiction, he said.
There have been a number of pedestrian accidents on the northern Menlo Park/southern Atherton section of El Camino in recent years, including a fatality. Among the assertions in the lawsuit related to public agencies' alleged negligence are "failure to provide and/or maintain adequate traffic control devices and warning signs alerting motorists to the crosswalk and the presence of pedestrians," and "failure to address and regulate the high speed of vehicles" using the highway.
It also asserts that speed limit signs are not clearly posted, and that the public agencies have failed to "properly respond to the accident history in this area and along (El Camino) at similar crosswalks without traffic control, and complaints regarding auto-versus-pedestrian collision dangers."