Lawsuit filed against driver who struck young boys

Menlo Park boy returns home after five weeks in hospital

A Menlo Park family has filed a lawsuit against the driver of a car that reportedly jumped a curb and pinned two 6-year-old twin brothers against a wall near Walgreen's on Santa Cruz Avenue.

The Oct. 17 crash left one boy in critical condition. After multiple surgeries, he was released from Stanford Hospital following a five-week stay, according to police. His twin sustained a broken arm.

According to the lawsuit, the Cadigan twins and their 9-year-old brother were walking along Santa Cruz Avenue when a BMW SUV with the license plate "EN ESQ" jumped across the sidewalk, striking the twins.

The lawsuit identifies the driver as Edward Nelson of Woodside. Police had withheld his name since no criminal charges had been filed; at the time of the accident, the 90-year-old man's license was confiscated and he was ordered to schedule an examination within five business days with the DMV, or risk suspension of his license.

Police Cmdr. Dave Bertini said he didn't know whether Mr. Nelson followed through.

"Once we do the initial paperwork for the suspension pending a retest of a driver, it is then out of our hands and goes to the DMV Office of Driver Safety. That entire process is administrative in nature, not criminal and does not involve the police department unless the officer that issued the priority re-examination form needed to answer any questions for the DMV," he said.

As Mr. Nelson held a valid license and wasn't under the influence of alcohol or other drugs at the time of the accident, he faces only an infraction. Investigators have completed their work and sent the case to the District Attorney's Office, which will decide whether to file a charge for driving on the sidewalk, according to Cmdr. Bertini.

Filed in San Mateo County Superior Court on Nov. 14, the lawsuit seeks punitive as well as general damages on behalf of all three boys for their injuries, which range from multiple, extensive skin grafts and damage to the lower body; orthopedic and soft-tissue damage to the upper body; and emotional trauma. The filing states that the injuries may be permanent.

Mr. Nelson declined to comment, saying it would be inappropriate given the pending lawsuit.

He graduated from Stanford Law School and was licensed to practice law from 1957 to 2001, according to the California State Bar.

The Cadigan family is represented by Michael Kelly and Valerie Rose of Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger, located in San Francisco.

A case management conference has been scheduled for March 2014.


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Posted by Area parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 27, 2013 at 12:04 pm

How awful for everyone. I hope the insurance company for the driver is reasonable and doesn't just put them all through trauma again, but it's not hopeful if the family had to file a suit. (In California, you can't sue the other person's insurance company if they don't pay the policy, you have to sue the other person, who then has to sue their own insurer for bad faith if they end up liable for something they shouldn't have. It's a terrible system with justice delayed and denied no matter what happens.)

All the best to the family of the boys in their recovery. All the best for the elderly man and his family, who have to live with what this man has done to these children.

Seniors, don't wait until this happens to you. Realize you are not immortal and you are likely to be a risk long before you realize it. Mileage adjusted data from the DMV show seniors are as risky as teen drivers, and it gets way worse after age 80. I'm not suggesting seniors don't drive, I'm suggesting they be more purposeful about maintaining their training, skills, and be open to evaluations that may show they are less capable than they think they are. Mental declines are like alcohol - the limitations are usually less obvious to the person experiencing them.

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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 27, 2013 at 2:15 pm

[Post removed.]

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Posted by Sanssouci
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 27, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Who can blame the father for the lawsuit? He now has very large medical bills to pay off, and probably psychiatric bills as well. A ninety-year-old who cannot tell the difference between the brake and the accelerator should not be driving.

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Posted by parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 27, 2013 at 6:23 pm

Insurance companies and lawyers are notoriously slow to pay up when the costs are large and a 5 week stay in the hospital has to be horrendously expensive. Hopefully this lawsuit will speed up the payments so that the victim's family is not bankrupted by the medical costs.

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Posted by take a stand
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 27, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Criminal charges should be filed - at least negligence if not assault with a deadly weapon. This huge, monster vehicle was a weapon up on the sidewalk where it did not belong. My sympathies to the victims.

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Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 27, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Unfortunately, as the article states, the only charges that can be filed are for driving on a sidewalk. The true recourse for the victims and family will have to be in civil court. The vehicle code allows people driving cars to cause serious injuries and death with essentially no consequences.

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Posted by Ted
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 3, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Edward Nelson has filed his response. He blames the boys due to their negligent behavior. Typical Stanford alum.

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Posted by Retired teacher
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 6, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Like many Stanford students and alumni, he was probably told all his life that he could do no wrong, and he still clings to that belief!

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