Walter Rutland, 49, was riding his bike in the right lane of a state road that had recently been resurfaced. He moved to the right to avoid a car approaching from behind him. The bicycle’s front tire came on to a drop-off between the newly resurfaced road and a fringe area that had not been resurfaced. Rutland lost control of his bike and fell.
As a result of his fall, he was hospitalized with spinal injuries; an MRI showed swelling at C1-7. He underwent decompression infusion surgery at C2-7, but the injuries resulted in complete quadriplegia. Rutland is now only able to walk about 25 feet. He requires a wheelchair for longer distances to move about. He also requires assistance with most of his daily tasks.
Rutland’s past medical expenses totaled about $700,000 and his future medical expenses and life-care costs were estimated to be about $4.5 million.
Rutland had been working as a computer engineer but is now permanently disabled. His past and future lost wages were approximately $1.7 million.
Rutland and his wife sued the state, claiming that the road resurfacing project, managed by the state department of transportation, had been completed in a negligent fashion.
The lawsuit brought by the Rutlands claimed that the roadwork left a 2½-inch drop-off where the resurfaced portion met the unsurfaced patch.
There were witnesses who testified at the trial that the defect resembled a small pothole. The Rutlands also presented evidence in testimony of a maintenance supervisor who worked on the project. He said if he had noticed the drop-off, it would have been repaired.
The defendant — the state — argued that Rutland regularly rode his bike on the road and was aware of the resurfacing project. The defendant also maintained that the incident occurred because Rutland’s front bike wheel released suddenly, and that was no fault of the state or its resurfacing project.
The case was tried as a bench trial without jury. The trial judge determined that the state was 90% responsible for plaintiff’s injuries and Rutland was 10% at fault based on the finding that the bike’s front wheel was defective. Before the parties began the damages phase of the case, the Rutlands and the state agreed on a settlement for $13 million. The attorney representing the Rutlands was Victor Mazzotti.
Rutland v. State, No. 116442 (N.Y., Rochester Ct. Claims).
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling bicycle accident cases, car accident cases and truck accident cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Summit, Forest Park, Oak Park, Harwood Heights, Hinsdale, Tinley Park, Park Ridge, Forest Park, Prospect Heights, LaGrange Park, Hillside, Harwood Heights, Hanover Park, Bedford Park, Bellwood, Berkeley, Blue Island and Lincolnshire, Ill.
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