News

Injured young cyclist to get $1.96 million settlement

Izzy's Brooklyn Bagels to bear majority of costs following accident between company driver and Palo Alto boy

Editor's Note: The name of the 12-year-old accident victim described in this story has been removed at the request of his family out of consideration for his privacy, as has the name of the driver of the car in light of no charges having been filed relating to the accident.

Palo Alto store Izzy's Brooklyn Bagels has agreed to pay $1.9 million to settle a lawsuit involving one of its employees who struck and seriously injured a child riding his bicycle in 2012, according to court documents filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court.

The City of Palo Alto, its contractor O'Grady Paving, Inc. and subcontractor JJR Construction, Inc, and the driver and the vehicle owner were also part of the settlement, and their insurers will pay a small portion of the total $1.96 million settlement.

On Nov. 5, 2012, a car driven by Izzy's worker (name removed) struck (name removed), of Palo Alto, at 7:19 a.m. on the 2500 block of Park Boulevard. The boy, 12, was bicycling to (removed) Elementary School, according to a police report. (Name removed) suffered a significant brain injury and fractures to his leg, hand and mandible.

(Name removed) was driving a Nissan Quest belonging to a relative south on Park through a construction area on his way to East Palo Alto to pick up supplies for Izzy's Bagels, he told police. The sun was in his eyes, he said, and he was driving between 25 and 35 miles per hour. He did not see (name removed) but heard the crash, noticed his windshield was broken and immediately stopped to investigate, the police report stated.

(Name removed), who was wearing a helmet, was struck from behind. He had left the bicycle lane to get around the construction zone, according to the report, and was veering back in when he was hit. The impact flipped (name removed) onto (name removed)'s hood and windshield. The force was such that his bicycle frame was broken in two, and bicycle parts were strewn across the road, according to the police.

A toxicology study of (name removed)'s blood found evidence of methamphetamine at the time of the collision, the report stated. (Name removed) told police that he had a previous addiction to methamphetamine, but he had not taken any in a while. He was not charged in the incident.

Israel Rind, owner of Izzy's Bagels, said that (name removed) was off the clock when the accident occurred and was not driving for Izzy's. He said Izzy's has its own driver and company truck and would not send an employee in his own vehicle to pick up supplies. Rind asserted that police may have misunderstood (name removed), for whom English is not his first language, when they interviewed him about the accident, according to the report.

The lawsuit, which was filed Aug. 28, 2013, asked for $17 million and claimed "a substantial factor that contributed to this incident is the City of Palo Alto's negligent design, construction, maintenance, signing, operation and control of the roadways."

City Attorney Molly Stump said this week that the city did not have to pay any money in the settlement, which was finalized by the court on May 31. Contractor O'Grady Paving's subcontractor, JJR Construction, which was working in the area on the day of the incident, paid through its insurer, she said.

Although limited by a confidentiality agreement, Stump said in an email: "On behalf of the City Council, we are pleased this matter has been resolved, and extend our sincere hopes for continued recovery to the young man and his family."

A publicly available document regarding how the settlement proceeds would be distributed describes the lingering issues for (name removed) and states that ongoing health problems will affect his lifetime earning potential by $3 million to $4 million. The cost of his ongoing therapeutic care and counseling could reach an estimated $326,500, the document stated.

The document breaks down financial responsibility under the settlement: City of Palo Alto, O'Grady Paving and JJR Construction will pay $45,000; (names removed) (the driver and vehicle owner), $15,000 and Izzy's Brooklyn Bagels, $1.9 million.

The majority of the settlement, nearly $1.4 million, will be placed in a restricted interest-bearing account until (name removed) reaches age 18, and a settlement trust will be established at a future date by the probate court. (Name removed)'s attorneys, Sumner Law, will receive $490,000 for services and expenses. Meridian Resources Company for Anthem Blue Cross will receive $35,660, and The Rawlings Company for Aetna Health Plans will receive $2,050.

Andrew Lauderdale, Izzy's attorney, said he and his client could not discuss the settlement due to the confidentiality agreement. Scott Sumner, attorney for (name removed), also said he could not comment due to confidentiality.

Comments

42 people like this
Posted by a parent
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 8, 2016 at 11:30 pm

When you drive with the sun in your eyes, you really need to slow down to a speed that allows you to see the road clearly. I'm glad this child was not killed and hope that he can go on to lead a somewhat normal life.


73 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 9, 2016 at 2:57 am

This was not Izzy's Bagels fault, it is unfair and patently ridiculous that they should be sued for this.

I am happy to hear the boy will have resources in his life to help him, but how is this justice to anyone to resolve these kind of accidents by a legal lottery or who happens to hit you or how expensive of a lawyer you can afford.

How many people are injured in accidents and get nothing ... not even health care or money for health care?


24 people like this
Posted by Really?
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 9, 2016 at 10:35 am

Respectfully to Plane Speaker, we don't really know what happened or what plaintiff could prove with regard to the employee-employer relationship with Izzy. I would suggest, however, that a small, independent business owner (or his insurance company) is not going to dish up $1,700,000 unless there is substantial proof of responsibility. He certainly would not have paid if it was a "patently ridiculous" claim.

As for the lottery comments, your point is well taken. Fortunately for Lerrick, there were some deep pockets. The sad thing for all involved is that this happened in the first place.


Like this comment
Posted by Really?
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 9, 2016 at 10:35 am

Respectfully to Plane Speaker, we don't really know what happened or what plaintiff could prove with regard to the employee-employer relationship with Izzy. I would suggest, however, that a small, independent business owner (or his insurance company) is not going to dish up $1,700,000 unless there is substantial proof of responsibility. He certainly would not have paid if it was a "patently ridiculous" claim.

As for the lottery comments, your point is well taken. Fortunately for Lerrick, there were some deep pockets. The sad thing for all involved is that this happened in the first place.


79 people like this
Posted by Russell Reid
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 9, 2016 at 10:44 am

This was not an "accident"; very few such incidents are. It was a systemic failure, and there will be more like it. It is the fault of the City of Palo Alto, which is cavalier about obstructions of bike lanes, which are not actually bike lanes but de facto convenience lanes that cyclists may use whenever someone is not choosing to block them off to make cell phone calls, do construction, trim trees, deliver things, move furniture in and out of apartments, stop to look at a garage sale, whatever.

"The driver was not charged" is also usual, as well as shameful and unacceptable. In this case it is magnified by some "I didn't have much meth in my system" baloney. "I did not see him" is the usual driver's excuse. It is your job as a driver to see what is in front of you; if you cannot see you must stop. You are operating a dangerous weapon; sloppiness is criminal just as sloppiness pointing and shooting a gun is criminal, and "I did not think it would go off" is no excuse. It should never be accepted, but instead it is always accepted. It is accepted because drivers of cars are a privileged class, with the entire system biased in their favor. Riders of bicycles, even children on the way to school, are mere jetsam. Drivers are only charged if they are drunk, or on higher levels of meth than apparently this driver was on. Driving next to a construction zone at the speed that must have been involved is by itself a transgression.

An accident would be if the car mechanically failed, or the roadway collapsed. "I didn't see him" is negligence, pure and simple; most often drivers do not see cyclists because they are not looking out the windshield. The standard lie always works so all drivers use it; the cops are happy with the situation because there is not much extra work to do documenting faults. As for the driver, seeing others, especially children, and taking care not to injure them is your #1 job as a driver. If you can't do it, all of the time, you are not eligible to use a car to get to your destination faster and more easily and more conveniently than if you were on a bicycle or bus.

The City, the driver, and to some extent the construction company were all at fault; insofar as I can see the employer was not at fault, but was conveniently used as a source of money via some insurance company. The core fault lies with the City of Palo Alto, which routinely allows lane obstructions like this to exist, and meanwhile never conveying to drivers that bicyclists have a right to ordinary roads, despite mostly traveling slower than cars. Bicycles have a right to obstruct drivers on ordinary roads when there is no alternative, including most often when they cannot safely ride 2 feet from the shoulder. Most drivers do not know this, thanks to lax efforts at conveying it, and therefore in effect they take lives in order to not be slowed down. Bike lanes are already highly imperfect, and meanwhile no one thinks for 30 seconds about blocking them off for whatever convenience.

My heart goes out to the child, who is likely to live his life with an injury that all the world save he himself have forgotten, as they drive their cars as they please.


28 people like this
Posted by Blood on their hands
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2016 at 11:45 am

The Palo Alto strategy for bike lanes seems to be simply painting lanes on existing roads. There does not appear to be any consideration for safe space as there are numerous examples of bike lanes with no shoulders, telephone pole infringement and blind spots created by parking spaces all the way up to the intersection.

Spray painting lines on existing streets and forcing cars and bicycles to share the road does not create a new green utopia. It just creates an accident waiting to happen.

Unfortunately, somebody is going to get killed and when that happens the city planners will have blood on their hands.


44 people like this
Posted by Angered
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2016 at 11:56 am

The neighborhood where this boy was hit was full of potholes, construction debris, etc. That stretch of Park has NO safe place for riding a bike--which is true of most of Palo Alto. The streets are often too narrow for two cars going in opposite directions, much less a bike lane in addition!

This kid's family now has millions of dollars in insurmountable medical bills. The boy was hospitalized in intensive care and nearly died. The amount of money they won doesn't BEGIN to cover the medical and physical therapy bills!

The city was doing road work on that stretch of Park when this boy was gravely injured on his way to school. They left all kinds of debris in the area that the boy had tomaneuver around while trying to stay out of the way of cars. Let the city pay its fair share!


66 people like this
Posted by Bagel in the Road
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 9, 2016 at 12:30 pm

Why should the bagel shop have to pony up $1.6 million? The driver was off the clock in his own car. A shakedown. It is sad that our healthcare system comes down to this. What would have happened if the child was struck by an uninsured, unemployed motorist? I guess he would just be out of luck?


4 people like this
Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 9, 2016 at 12:46 pm

@Blood - Palo Alto follows the state mandated guidelines for bike lanes. Those may be woefully inadequate, but that is what our state leaders are willing to specify. If cities abide by those engineering standards they will be immune from any lawsuits over the designs. If they go outside the standards and install non-approved designs then their blanket immunity goes away and they are potentially liable. Palo Alto has done this on occasion, but generally abides by the standards. If you don't like it, don't complain to Palo Alto, complain to Sacramento.


15 people like this
Posted by welcome to California
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 9, 2016 at 12:48 pm

Welcome to California! Now get sued. Get thee a TON of liability insurance.


42 people like this
Posted by Chip
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 9, 2016 at 1:04 pm

The inclusion of Izzy's at all is unfortunate & unfair in my opinion. The meth-infused driver, in a private vehicle, was most assuredly not doing work requested by the employer. In attempting to compensate the boy & his family for a tragic injury caused by a careless driver with very limited assets, the attorneys went straight for the deepest possible pockets - the businessman's insurance company.
Taking nothing away from the gravity of the boy's injuries, this was a slick legal move to extract money. The beleaguered family may eventually realize that they played the system to get any money available from whomever could pay.


15 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2016 at 3:22 pm

I do wish we could get more laws on the books to ensure that bikes could be seen better. On sunny days, the shady part of the road almost hides bikes and pedestrians. We have helmet laws and we supposedly have laws about lights and reflectors. But we need to get bikes to wear high visibility vests, to have lights that can be seen from all four directions and stop bikes from riding on the wrong side of the road. Bells on bikes are rare.

Bikes are never in the wrong in an accident, or so it seems. The person riding will always get off worse than the people in the car. Bike safety has to come back to the person riding the bike using the road in a predictable manner and making themselves seen and heard.


4 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 9, 2016 at 4:16 pm

Really? ...

I don't think you get the "deep pockets" legal system, or how clever lawyer are.
It is good that lawyers are clever for their clients to get compensation or justice
when it fair and due process, but there is a lack of legal remedy for people
who do not have some deep pocket around to sue, or the money to pay
for a clever lawyer ... meaning that there is a monumental justice gap like
everything between the 1% and regular Americans. I don't see how you can
ignore that and defend the current legal system because it might do something
help in one out of a thousand cases such as this?

A few years back a woman was riding her bike with some others through a
construction zone ( read about this on Palo Alto Online ) and crashed her bike.
She hit her head and died of her wounds. Now that is tragic, but the lawyer
sued the city for her family, and the construction company, because there were
not enough warning signs and won - if I remember right over 2 million dollars.
Riding a bike on Sand Hill road through a construction zone is on one's own
liability. Most people, at least 20 years ago most people would feel like
criminals suing like this for everything, now it is like the lottery.

I am not against people being compensated for willful harm or accidental
harm by the responsible agents, but really there should be some legal or
governmental remedy for people as opposed to what I called above a legal
lottery. Civil penalties should cover maliciousness, negligence and other
active causes of damage and harm ... not just some random windfall on the
part of random victims.

This guy was as I understand the facts driving his own car not on company
time or business and I seem to remember also under the influence of something.
The driver showed terrible judgement driving into the sun thinking that because
he is on the street and cannot see that there would nothing in front of him.

What complicated fact do you think is missing?


12 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 9, 2016 at 4:20 pm

Resident ... my reading of this incident that happened quite a while ago
was that the driver was driving towards the sun and could not see and
just kept driving at speed anyway.

In this case, I am not positive of my facts here, but the victim could
have been a pedestrian, bicyclist or another car because the driver of
the at fault vehicle was not driving safely ... that is, it was his incompetence
or negligence.

I'm just saying the accident probably doesn't have that much to do
with bicyclists in general or bike rules.


1 person likes this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 9, 2016 at 4:22 pm

What might have stopped this accident is the new driving navigation aids, such as radar and computer assisted driving.


1 person likes this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 9, 2016 at 4:34 pm

Russell Reid, your long interesting post seems to basically make a case
that the onus of responsibility derives from not having or following enough
rules. ( I have to wonder if you an attorney yourself? ) To cut short and
to the chase, I see this differently, give me any driving situation and if you
drive responsibility, carefully and defensively you will be OK 99.999% of the time.

There are very few real "accidents" and this situation does not seem
like an "accident" to me. In this case it seems like you are blaming
the city for not having a fool-proof locked-down air-tight set up that
could avoid all accidents.

You talk about systems, but look at failure modes and risk analysis.
The more rules you have, the more complexity you build into a system
the more likely it is to fail or encounter ambiguity.

We cannot pay for, I hope, to have PhD's hanging around every
construction site at quitting time making sure that ever i is dotted
and t crossed and do a complex analysis on every aspect of safety.

We have to depend on the responsibility of drivers having good
judgement. This driver's judgement was frankly poop, and not
only that but was he not chemically impaired as well? You simply
do not reason that because 99% of the time there is nothing in
front of you that when the sun comes out and blocks your view
that you can gamble that there is nothing in front of you in any
particular time or case.

Now think about justice ... and what would have happened if this
well off Palo Alto kid on a bike was instead one of the many
day laborers or poor people who have to ride their bikes because
they could not afford a car.

Do you think the outcomes of the justice system ... there's that
word system again ... would be anywhere near the same or uniform?

Which system is the more broken?


4 people like this
Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 9, 2016 at 5:39 pm

Bicyclists can make themselves visible, but they can't make themselves be seen. The latter requires proper brain response by the driver and is out of the bicyclist's control. I have done everything requested by Resident and still have had drivers who didn't see me. We need to have stricter standards and accountability for drivers so they will be paying more attention and driving more safely. That is the solution that has worked in other countries that have far fewer bicyclist injuries and fatalities than we do, with no added equipment requirements on bicyclists.


4 people like this
Posted by A driver...
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 9, 2016 at 7:57 pm

I was just driving in another city. The sun was going down, and the glare was horrible. I could barely see. I did my best to blot out the sun by holding my hand in front of the windshield. I also slowed down a LOT, and was very careful, mindful of everything that I could see ahead of me.

One driver at a stop sign to my left seemed impatient that I was driving slowly. Perhaps he waited a bit longer than he ought to have, for me to pass. I thought he was going to dart in front of me, so I reduced my already reduced speed, in case he did. But he waited for me to pass. He had great vision, with no sun at all with which to contend. I hoped he knew I couldn't see and that I wasn't just taking my sweet time, for nothing.

I think we just need to allow for some sun, at certain times of the day, morning and evening, and go slower. There were no bicycles around there. If there were, I'd hope they hugged their own lane, and would not veer into the driver's area. We all need to be mindful that we are not the only people on the road.


3 people like this
Posted by john francisco
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 9, 2016 at 11:37 pm

I have read all these comments an no has said any thing about speed limits in a cons. zone. he should have been driving about 10 to 15 hr. or where are the flag men.where there no posted speed limits.


4 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 10, 2016 at 10:34 am

Seems like bike riding is unsafe.

Maybe we should outlaw it.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2016 at 10:45 am

@ Donald

"no added equipment requirements on bicyclists." Why not? They are doing that all the time to motorized vehicles.

I think the latest is mandatory back up cameras coming in the pipeline.

With more vehicles of all types on the roads, we should look at all legislation on all types of vehicles and enhance safety requirements. I am saying this as someone who does ride a bike at times and has children who ride bikes to school.


3 people like this
Posted by swuzy
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 10, 2016 at 11:40 am

Many post that Izzy's not to blame; the driver should be blamed and he was not in driving during his employment hours.

It is clear the trial of fact found that under California law, the driver was acting under orders from Izzy.

The Izzy store is on California Business District, the driver was headed east into the morning sun at 7:19 am to East Palo Alto to pick up supplies for Izzy. He would not be headed there but for Izzy's orders. For a breakfast bagel shop, that is a reasonable time to pick up daily supplies before the day starts. The Izzy self serving statements are belied by the evidence of the surrounding facts.

Where a driver is acting as agent for a master, the master is liable under age old well established California law.

This is a relatively open and shut employer liability case, and Izzy and all small and large businesses should have covered itself with adequate business liability insurance.

Of course the liability in this case is shared by other contributing actors.




2 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 10, 2016 at 6:53 pm

> It is clear the trial of fact found that under California law, the driver was acting under orders from Izzy.

I did not read that. I believe the opposite was reported in the story when this was first reported. There is basis for the award if he was working at the time. Are you sure about that or is that a hypothesis on your part?

> The Izzy self serving statements

I do have to take issue with this comment. You accuse here people who take an opposite position from you of being Izzy's ... what ... owners? workers? insurance agents? I am certainly not connected to Izzy's in any way except an occasional bagel customer a few times a year, which I hope does not change.


3 people like this
Posted by SteveU
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 11, 2016 at 1:35 pm

SteveU is a registered user.

Swuzy
If he was on a shopping trip for his employer, he should be 'On The Clock' unless he qualified as an 'exempt employee'.

If he was NOT making a shopping run, he was neither working or in violation of non-exempt employment rules.


3 people like this
Posted by You should know
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 11, 2016 at 11:53 pm

Speaking of bike lanes, most drivers do not know that when turning right, they are supposed to pull into the bike lane prior to reaching the corner. The car is supposed to pull into the bike lane when the bike lane lines break. This is for the safety of bicyclists so a car does not pull up to the corner and suddenly cut them off. Most people violate this law.

This incident was a tragedy and it's such a shame that this boy was hurt.


Like this comment
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 12, 2016 at 4:38 pm

Thanks for the reminder about bike lanes and right turns, "You should know".

The Online CA Driver Handbook about this is here: Web Link

It says:

- To make a right turn, drive close to the right edge of the road.
- If there is a bike lane, drive into the bike lane no more than 200 feet before the turn.
- Watch for bicyclists or motorcyclists who may get between your vehicle and the curb.

I have read people here quoting the exact opposite which is why I checked again.

It makes sense to have the car as far right as possible so that a bicyclist cannot get run into or cut off by a turning car, but it also can make it harder/tighter for a car to turn. It might also affect the driver's ability to see pedestrians as they will be closer the closer the car is to the right side of the road. I am not sure this make total sense, nor if all drivers do it. But, that is the way it is supposed to be done.


Like this comment
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 12, 2016 at 10:09 pm

"The beleaguered family may eventually realize that they played the system to get any money available from whomever could pay."

Eventually? Methinks they realized this from the get go. I doubt they wanted to shoulder the cost of medical treatment, and they weren't going to get much from the driver.


2 people like this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 12, 2016 at 10:18 pm

"Seems like bike riding is unsafe.

Maybe we should outlaw it."

Perhaps simply separating bicycle and motor vehicle traffic to the greatest extent possible would be a better solution. The ounce of prevention, so to speak.


2 people like this
Posted by Fabio
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 13, 2016 at 9:02 am

"Seems like bike riding is unsafe.

Maybe we should outlaw it."

Seems to me that driving a speeding car through a construction zone with the sun in your eyes is unsafe. Maybe we should outlaw it. It is mind-boggling that the driver was not charged with anything.


8 people like this
Posted by Goosie
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 13, 2016 at 12:10 pm

Goosie is a registered user.

Where there is room for a bike lane, a protective berm should be put in to help separate cars from bikes,. As in Denmark and the Netherlands.

Where there is no room for a bike lane, there is no room for a bike__period. It IS a safety issue.


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Charleston Gardens

on Sep 26, 2017 at 10:52 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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