(Photo courtesy Rickson’s attorneys.)
As we reported this morning, a jury was expected to rule on the Kathryn Rickson case today. Rickson’s family was pursuing a $1.78 million lawsuit against the trucking company that owned and operated the truck involved in the collision that claimed her life back in May 2012.
However, just a few hours before the closing arguments were set to be heard at the Multnomah County Courthouse, representatives from Golden State Foods Corp. decided to settle out of court for a sum of $700,000.
According to Charley Gee, an attorney with Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton, the firm representing Rickson’s estate, this is a significant settlement that should send a clear message to trucking companies to take driver training more seriously.
During the seven day trial, Rickson’s attorneys presented evidence that attempted to show that the driver of the truck and/or his passenger should have been more aware of the presence of a bicycle lane and a person who might be occupying it. Gee said they presented the jury with evidence showing exactly what the truck driver and his passenger could see from their windows. “We went out and got a truck that matched the truck in the incident and we closed down the intersection,” Gee shared with us via telephone today. “We circled the block in that truck and documented exactly what a truck driver could see in the mirrors and what the passenger could see.”
“There was absolutely no excuse for not seeing a bicycle rider in that bicycle lane… And with that bike lane being one of only a few with green paint, there was no reason, no excuse,” said Gee.
Gee added that they also presented evidence (partially via testimony from the truck driver himself) that showed the truck had an irregular turning movement prior to the collision. As the truck approached the intersection, it slowed way down, then veered left a bit (to do a “jug-handle” turn, a common move for large trucks trying to make a tight right turn), then right again, then the truck paused again for some reason before colliding with Rickson.
For more details on how the collision occurred, read our report about the District Attorney’s findings in the case.
Gee, a daily bicycle rider himself who rides through this intersection frequently, said he hopes the $700,000 settlement encourages local delivery companies to spend more time training their truck operators on the law and how to drive safely in the urban core. As for the design of this notoriously dangerous intersection, Gee added, “Personally, I’d love to see a bike-only signal.”
— Read more about Kathryn Rickson in our archives.