There was a bunch of information published about a settlement between a bicyclist injured in 2014 and the city of Scottsdale; After much back-and-forth the city eventually settled the case for $120,000; significantly less than the $1M ask, but significantly more than the city’s earlier offer of $60,000.
The city staff reports mention the cyclist had (already) settled with the driver, presumably the driver’s insurance, and as this was a strike-from-behind they probably just accepted liability. The theory of liability with the city is they should have, but did not, provide a bicycle lane or shoulder.
It provides an look at the machinations of personal injury law that those of us on the outside don’t usually see.
- yourvalley.net — news article 10/1/2019
- Scottdale Progress — news article 9/22/2019 (incidentally, the reporter reached out to me on the topic of per-capita AZ bicyclist fatality rates but I was otherwise unaware of the story)
- Staff Report for council meeting 9/17/2019
- Staff Report for council meeting 1/8/2019; interesting mostly for its references to Rule 68 and how it can potentially limit the City’s exposure
According to City of Scottsdale staff report and news reports:
Crash occurring May 17,2014 — this crash doesn’t appear in state crash data, indicating Scottsdale PD wasn’t involved — which seems unlikely — or the report was otherwise lost or not even taken(?)
lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court Marcellus v. City of Scottsdale, CaseNo. CV2015-091140
City claims the BICYCLIST is at fault? Ludicrous!
I actually don’t see or understand the bicyclist’s theory of liability that the city was negligent for not providing a bike lane; HOWEVER, where does the city get off saying …
“The City … contends Plaintiff is at least partially, if not wholly, at fault”
When the driver of the vehicle (the vehicle behind) strikes a vehicle ahead, the striking driver is at fault, and the struck driver is not at fault.
? The bicyclist was struck from behind; The staff report states that the bicyclist says he was traveling on the small shoulder when struck — presumably the motorist drifted out of the travel lane, side-swiping the bicyclist. Since there’s apparently no crash report (see below), I can’t corroborate any of that with what police may have observed.
Claiming it’s the bicyclist’s fault calls to mind this passage from an Iowa Supreme court case finding a motorist solely at fault for striking a bicycle in the rear — “ascribing negligence to such choices would be ludicrous if applied to any other motorist” (see Vasconez)
Scottsdale claims to be “bicycle friendly” GOLD — it’s not friendly to be a victim-blamer.
No Police report?
There are no reported crashes fitting that description by date, location or anything. A crash report is required for any injury involving a MV. It seems unlikely the police were not summoned, but who knows… in any event why no crash report?.
Which reminds me of another Scottsdale story: A bicyclist contacted me last year about a crash he was involved in in Scottsdale, Oct 2017; a motorist ran a right-on-red colliding with him as he came through the green light. His injuries weren’t life threatening, but were significant; he is well over a year later hoping to be finishing physical therapy for the injuries he sustained, and still had pain. He told me that:
9-1-1 was called twice within 40 minutes, yet police never came to the scene and the dispatcher told me on the second call, “The EMS can gather the information needed.”
His crash isn’t reported, either. Is something else going on in Scottsdale, see table below..the number of reported bicyclist crashes dropped off dramatically around 2014. No one can explain why but the most likely cause is some sort of policy shift in how PD responds (or doesn’t respond, as the case may be) to bicyclist crashes.
crashes in Scottsdale
This trend isn’t unique to Scottsdale, the same pattern exists in ‘Chandler’, ‘Flagstaff’, ‘Glendale’, ‘Gilbert’, ‘Mesa’, and , ‘Tempe’ — none has been explained, and curiously the two largest cities, Phoenix and Tucson don’t exhibit this pattern.
Sovereign Immunity — when does SI apply? ( #si )
Rules about bringing lawsuits against the government in Arizona are located in ARS Title 12 / Chapter 7 /
Actions Against Public Entities or Public Employees; Of particular relevance is:
12-820.03. Affirmative defense; resolution by trial
A. A public entity or a public employee is not liable for an injury arising out of a plan or design for construction or maintenance of or improvement to transportation facilities, including highways, roads, streets, bridges or rights-of-way, if the plan or design is prepared in conformance with generally accepted engineering or design standards in effect at the time of the preparation of the plan or design and the public entity or public employee gives to the public a reasonably adequate warning of any unreasonably dangerous hazards which would allow the public to take suitable precautions.
B. If a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether the public entity or public employee has met the requirements of subsection A of this section, the issue shall be resolved by a trial before and separate and apart from a trial on damages.
So it would appear — based only on the circumstances outlined in the staff reports and news articles — that the plaintiff was able to so far convince a judge that there is, at least, a “genuine issue of material fact” about the idea that the city is required to provide some form of separate bicycle accommodation.
Scrolling thru the lengthy court history, there was a veritable deluge of motions made by Scottsdale on 8/8/2019:
Note: city of scottsdale’s motion in limine to exclude hearsay statement by non-party mark robbins
Note: city of scottsdale’s motion in limine to exclude dissimilar accidents
Note: city of scottsdale’s motion in limine to exclude any evidence that plaintiff has any loss of earning capacity
Note: city of scottsdale’s motion in limine to exclude any evidence that plaintiff’s knee symptoms are related to this accident
Note: city of scottsdale’s motion in limine to exclude any lay witness opinions that the road was dangerous
Note: city of scottsdale’s motion in limine to exclude any evidence that plaintiff has any current symptoms related to the “concussion” or “stroke” diagnosed at the hospital
… litigation / tort / liability /