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Jury Returns a Record $31.5 Million Verdict Finding a Dangerous Condition on State Route 138

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San Bernardino, CA (Press Release)— A jury awarded a catastrophically injured man and his wife more than $31.5 million Thursday in a ruling against Caltrans, finding the state agency responsible for a dangerous roadway condition on a section of California State Route 138.

The accident occurred at the intersection of SR 138 and Mountain Road on April 29, 2009, causing severe brain and spinal cord injuries to David Evans, who will require 24-hour nursing care for the rest of his life. Evans and his wife, both career LA County district attorneys within a few years of retirement prior to the incident, sued the state for failing to remedy the dangerous condition.

David Evans was riding his motorcycle eastbound on SR 138 when he was struck by a vehicle turning left at the intersection. Caltrans defines the intersection as “skewed” i.e., an intersection where the angle is over the preferred and typical 90 degrees. Located just 15 miles from Lancaster, SR 138 (the stretch of highway between Palmdale and Interstate 15) has earned the nicknames “Death Highway” and “Blood Alley” for its numerous hazards to drivers.

Plaintiffs were represented by Robert A. Parris of R. Rex Parris Law Firm and Gregory L. Bentley and Danica Dougherty of Shernoff Bidart Echeverria Bentley LLP. The driver of the other vehicle, who made a left turn in violation of California vehicle codes, was also named a defendant in the case. In handing down their multi-million-dollar verdict, the jury found Caltrans 15% responsible, and that the driver of the other vehicle was 85% at fault.

“It is important that Caltrans fix problems they know exist. Public safety should be paramount”, stated Robert A. Parris. The evidence established that Caltrans’ Chief of Operations received a complaint from a local citizen about the intersection a year and a half before the accident. Despite this complaint, Plaintiffs believed that Caltrans took no steps to protect against the dangerous condition, even though 10 previous accidents had occurred at the same location, putting the agency on notice of the dangerous condition. “I’m glad justice was served on behalf of two career public servants”, added Bentley.

The case is Evans v. State of CA, filed in the San Bernardino County Superior Court.

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