5.2 Million Dollar Settlement-CalTrans 

Published in Verdicts & Settlements—September 22, 2014

RESULT DATE: March 31, 2014                                                  

PREMISES LIABILITY- Dangerous Condition of Public Property



CASE: Michael Thiry and Karen Thiry v. State of California, Ibrahim Aldridge, and Does 1 through 50 (SCV 251518)

COURT: Superior Court of Sonoma County, Santa Rosa

NEUTRAL: Hon. Edward A. Panelli through JAMS is a former CA Supreme Court Justice

PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY(S)–Michael A. Fiumara (formerly Law Offices of Michael A. Fiumara, now Fiumara Law, PC, Santa Rosa).

Tad S. Shapiro (Shapiro, Galvin, Shapiro & Moran, Santa Rosa);

DEFENSE ATTORNEY(S)Timothy P. Murphy, Edrington, Schirmer & Murphy LLP, Pleasant Hill, CA (Ibrahim Aldridge);  Patrick Petersen, Karl H. Schmidt both representing the Department of Transportation, Legal Division, San Francisco, CA (State of California)

Michael Thiry and Karen Thiry sued the State of California and Ibrahim Aldridge.

PLAINTIFF’S CONTENTIONS: Plaintiffs alleged Aldridge was driving on a highway, at a time when it had been raining for about two days, and lost control of his vehicle when he drove into water that had flooded the road. Plaintiffs further alleged that Aldridge’s vehicle hydroplaned and crashed into Michael Thiry’s truck, which then forced Michael’s truck to crash into an emergency call box.

Plaintiffs alleged that, in addition to Aldridge’s negligence, the State of California caused a dangerous condition on the road where the accident took place because it knew that the areas was often subject to flooding, but failed to remedy the condition and failed to warn the public of the unsafe condition.

DEFENDANT’S CONTENTIONS: Aldridge argued that the accident was caused by the State of California’s failure to warn of a dangerous condition. Caltrans argued that it had no notice of frequent flooding and that Aldridge’s driving at an unsafe speed in the rain caused the accident.

INJURIES: Michael Thiry alleged that as a result of the accident he suffered a number of fractures, including fractures to his ankles, heels, foot, femur, and hip. He subsequently underwent three open surgeries in the first three weeks after the crash, was hospitalized for the first 30 days after the accident, and had a morphine pain pump implanted.

DAMAGES: Michael Thiry argued that he suffered $4,020,000 in damages from past and future medical costs and past and future loss of earnings. In addition he argued for pain and suffering damages, while Karen Thiry alleged loss of consortium damages.

RESULT: The parties settled the case for a total of $5,265,000, whereby Aldridge agreed to pay $15,000 and Caltrans agreed to pay $5,250,000.

PLAINTIFF COUNSEL’S COMMENTARY: Lawsuits make a difference in changing public policy and eliminating dangerous public conditions—making our roadways safer.  CLICK here to view the TWO VIDEOS taken below in January of 2017 of the roadway (where the accident occurred) now finally being raised 10 feet almost 6 years after the March 20, 2011 accident preventing the flooding of the busy 101 Highway corridor in this location.