The original story in Palo Alto Online was here: Web Link
The 2.4 Million dollar settlement was reported here the other day:
There was further commentary in the San Jose Mercury News here: Web Link
The summary is that in 2007 a woman was in a tragic bicycle accident in Menlo Park, fell and hit her head and lost her life.
She was wearing a helmet and riding with friends when they rode into a construction zone where there was apparent confusion or the safety postings or devices were not configured correctly and the woman's bicycle apparently hit an object in the road that should not have been there and she went over.
I am very sorry to hear about this accident and its consequence, and for this woman's friends and family you have my condolences.
However, I think this settlement is a complete outrage, and just the kind of example of abuse of the legal system that we hear about and is universally condemned as unjust or unfair.
The net results I am looking at, and I do not have all the facts, and I was not on any jury, so this is a first order opinion based on what I have read.
1) Was the "punishment" in line with the responsibility or negligence of the defendent, in this case, not the city, but the contracting company? Can any contracting company make any construction zone 100% safe and avoid all accidents, and what should be their responsibility if they cannot? This apparently was not a motor vehicle accident, it was a biking accident, ie. something that could have happened anywhere and would not usually be fatal. Why is the contractor liable for such a huge amount? What is the difference of me hitting a rock and crashing my bike riding in the Baylands and hitting my head and this situation. Why is the complete responsiblity for this accident being accepted by the contracting company, and are they accepting it because the plaintiff has enough money or a rich enough lawyer to afford to harrass the insurance company costing it an equal or greater amount to defened itself?
2) Is the settlement in line with any award that a jury would make that might change unfair or outdated regulations and make things any better? It seems to me not.
Since the settlement details are not public, I am not sure what will be gained by anyone, except one person and their lawyer who, excuse this term, hit the jackpot, simply because of the location of this accident and their legal and economic resources
Personally, until I find facts and information to the contrary I have to consider this settlement an outrage. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Again, I think the right thing to do would have been to place partial blame on the contracting company and settle for a much smaller amount, despite the fact that this accident had nothing to do with cars or the road, and people are responsible when on a bicycle to operate it reasonably and deemed intelligent and responsible enough to accept that they may get hurt in anything they do in life.
Don't know if I have phrased this logically or sympathetically, but I was very concerned when I read this in a local paper and saw no posting of it at the Palo Alto Online website for what is almost a local issue and certainly an issue that is of national import and debate.