News

City pays $250,000 settlement for Fire Department accident

Fire truck blocked all lanes of Skyline Boulevard in non-emergency situation

A woman has settled a lawsuit with the City of Palo Alto for $250,000 in a lawsuit she filed in December 2015 after receiving significant injuries caused by a motorcycle crash with a city fire truck, according to court documents supplied by the city City Attorney's office. The city does not admit any wrongdoing, according to the settlement.

Alexis Ferreira and her father, David Ferreira of San Jose, were riding their motorcycles on Skyline Boulevard on June 29, 2015 at 10:45 a.m., when fire personnel stopped a large fire truck in the middle of the road in a non-emergency situation, according to the lawsuit they filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court. The truck completely blocked the northbound and southbound lanes. Fire personnel did not provide any advanced or adequate warning or notice to approaching motorists, according to a $225,000 claim filed with the city on Aug. 18, 2015. City officials rejected the claim.

Ferreira, 26, was riding north in single file between another motorcyclist and her father. As she rounded a curve she saw the other motorcyclist suddenly brake and saw the truck blocking the highway. She braked abruptly and lost control of her Yamaha R-6 motorcycle in an attempt to avoid a crash, but was thrown and landed in the highway, according to the lawsuit.

Ferreira suffered an open femur fracture, hand fractures, separated collar bone, coccyx fracture and extensive road rash and contusions. Her lawsuit asked for unspecified damages for medical costs, loss of wages and earning capacity in addition to past and future pain and suffering, disability and disfigurement. David Ferreira claimed serious emotional distress as a result of witnessing the accident and also asked for compensation for the totaled motorcycle, which he owned.

The Ferreiras' claim filed with the city asked for payment for past medical bills of $225,000 and for unknown future medical bills, earning loss and non-economic damages. It was later rejected by the city.

Related content:

• City Council mulls motorcyclist's lawsuit

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Comments

5 people like this
Posted by MassageGuy
a resident of The Greenhouse
on Jun 12, 2017 at 2:20 pm

How fast were they going for them to be unable to stop safely on time?


9 people like this
Posted by Stew Pid
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 12, 2017 at 5:02 pm

$250K sounds like chump change for injuries of this magnitude that were avoidable with proper warning signage.


7 people like this
Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 12, 2017 at 5:55 pm

An R-6 has a top speed of 160 mph.

Being a retired cafe racer I'm very familiar with Skyline. It's road race heaven. Back in the day cruising speed was 80 mph.

The article states the plaintiff was in between two other bikes. Unstated was how close they were to each other. Based on the rider's reaction to the front bike's brake lights and normal delay in reaction time, I'd bet it was a few feet.

The article doesn't state where the event took place. That would be good to know to get a complete picture of what happened.

The fire truck should have not been blocking both lanes without providing some type of reasonable warning to other vehicles.


10 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 12, 2017 at 6:47 pm

The fire truck crew was obviously partially at fault for parking their truck blocking both lanes at a blind corner in a non-emergency situation. The real issue is how much are they at fault compared to the negligence of the motorcycle riders. The city is paying a small part of the losses that the injured person suffered (medical expenses, lost wages, rehab, possibly never fully recovering, etc), which the city probably figures is its portion of the negligence.


3 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 12, 2017 at 10:20 pm

Here's an old BARF thread on this incident: Web Link

Same-day discussion postings illustrate how information travels among enthusiasts of any activity. Photo of damaged Yamaha included.

@Hulk, regarding location, the photo of the motorcycle on gravel shoulder and dry grass puzzles me. Given 1-2 pm shadow direction, that section of Hwy-35 must point north or a bit east of north, which does fit the road 1.9 to 2.3 miles south of Page Mill intersection, and within Palo Alto city limits. But most of that stretch is more heavily forested and deeper in shadow. Can't find an intersecting driveway at a limited-visiblity curve (let alone @resident's "blind corner") that fits the accident description.


2 people like this
Posted by Do the right thing
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2017 at 8:28 am

Legal awards are never about what is right when someone is wronged. They are about whether the plaintiff can afford a lawyer (who will likely get most of this award so lawyers want easy, obvious cases) and can endure what is likely to be a stress-fille battle. They are about whether the defendant has insurance coverage (so the plaintiff's lawyer knows they will get paid if they get a big award and the defendant knows they can afford to spend ten times crushing the plaintiff as would settle the case early) and if the insurer would rather bankrupt the plaintiff on their legal fees or prolong things until they die. The latter is especially a problem for plaintiffs if the insurer is the same. These things are about whether the lawyers think a jury would be sympathetic to the plaintiff or if they can drag someone through the mud enough to make them go away. Having filed the case, the plaintiff will have had to face what is basically the legal equivalent of a prolonged strip search and gynecological exam by hostile, moneyed interests, followed by the paperwork equivalent. did you know that juries are not allowed to know when a defendant has insurance coverage even though the insurer has pulled all the strings?

It's normal for the public to Monday morning quarterback these things, but rehashing the facts if the case as if that's what drives these things misses what usually is really happening. It's never about justice. Go to amall claims court for that, because it's just about the arguments there. Superior Court is a different thing altogether. Plaintiffs can't usually set the record straight, either, because in order to get their settlement and make the pain of the suit stop, they usually have to sign an agreement to keep them quiet.


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