Paul Krueger Law Firm, A Professional Corporation

Salem Loses $800k Lawsuit After Crash

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On Friday, June 10, 2016, a Multnomah County Jury, in no uncertain terms, let the City of Salem know that its employees, like all citizens, must adhere to the rules of the road. The case was tried to a jury by attorneys Paul H. Krueger and Wade M. Bowyer of the Paul Krueger Law Firm, PC.

The case arose from a motor vehicle collision that occurred on April 16, 2013 when a 13-ton City of Salem utility truck or “boom truck,” operated by a City of Salem employee attempted to make a U-turn across five lanes of traffic and struck a passenger vehicle be operated by Ms. Phyllis Murray. The employee had just completed utility work at the signal box located at the corner of Commercial Street and Fairway Street, in Salem Oregon when he needed to move the vehicle to the opposite side of the intersection to work on the light. Just as he maneuvered his truck off of the curb and into the northbound lanes of traffic, Ms. Murray made a left hand turn onto Commercial Street and began traveling northbound in the left northbound lanes of Commercial Street. As Ms. Murray began to pass the utility truck, in her designated lane of travel, the employee attempted a U-turn, striking the passenger side of Ms. Murray’s vehicle.

Ms. Murray suffered injury to her low back, which ultimately required surgical intervention. Unfortunately, Ms. Murray contracted a post surgical infection that required her to undergo eight months of hospital care and which continues to leave her with permanent and disabling injuries.

The City attempted to argue that their employee driver was not at fault for causing this collision and that Ms. Murray had somehow been the cause of this collision. Through the trial process it became clear that the City had failed to follow its own procedures and practices in investigating the collision and had done nothing more than rely on the statements of their driver to determine fault. It was pointed out to the jury that the driver may face discipline if found to be at fault and had an incentive to invent a story with regard to the cause of the collision. It was further pointed out to the jury that no investigation was conducted, post collision, as was required by the City’s own policies. Further, defense counsel, Michael Lehner of Rodrigues and Lehner, also attempted to argue that City vehicles were not required to follow traffic safety laws, an argument that flew in the face of City procedure manuals that were admitted into evidence.

After deliberating for more than four hours, the jury returned a verdict compensating Ms. Murray for her injuries in a total amount of $862,272.45. The panel was not unanimous and two the jurors disagreeing with the verdict indicated that they would have awarded the Ms. Murray additional compensation, beyond that awarded by the consensus of the panel.

To read the full news article with regard to this matter follow the link to the Statesman Journal.

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