Interesting Legal-Lawyering Stories

Pothole repair = $3.25 million

Bike PotholeAfter failing for years to address complaints about a pothole-laden thoroughfare in the Oakland hills, the city of Oakland will pay $3 million to a cyclist who suffered severe injuries after crashing on the street.

In a closed session Tuesday, the Oakland City Council agreed to a $3.25 million settlement with a cyclist who crashed while bicycling downhill on Mountain Boulevard between Ascot Drive and the Highway 13 onramp.

The cyclist, a 35-year-old Oakland resident, suffered severe injuries to her face, head, jaw, teeth, according to court papers.

A councilman stated. “This was a serious accident, and this settlement is a fair settlement. The real issue … is what more do we need to do … to make sure we fix the roads that need fixing before accidents like this happen. And that’s primarily a budgetary challenge.”

The city had received prior complaints about multiple potholes and ruts on the road but failed to fix them. The city will pay $3 million to the cyclist; its insurance company will cover the additional $250,000. The city fixed the potholes four months after the accident.

The settlement, scheduled for final approval by the council on April 1, is one of the largest awarded in recent city history. By comparison, the city has spent $1.86 million to settle claims filed by 14 people in Occupy Oakland-related cases.

“This was a serious injury,” said Carter Zinn, the cyclist’s attorney. “We commend the city for taking this seriously. … It’s our hope that the city can put money toward preventing these kinds of accidents by maintaining these roadways.”

Oakland has about 1,000 pending pothole repair requests.

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