$6 Million Settlement Plus Funds to Improve Street Safety After Bicyclist’s Death Leads to Overhaul of Safety Policies

A 24-year-old pastry chef, Emily Fredericks, rode her bicycle from her apartment to her job at a restaurant in Philadelphia in November 2017.  As she approached an intersection, a garbage truck driven alongside her by Jorge Fretts, an employee of the waste disposal company Gold Medal Environmental, prepared to make a right turn across her path.

About 40 feet from the intersection, Fretts had passed a road sign telling drivers to “Yield to Bikes.”

Fretts chose not to yield or even check his surroundings and made the turn without using his turn signal. The truck struck Emily’s bike, knocked her to the ground and ran over her, crushing her chest. She died from her injuries.

Emily’s parents hired Philadelphia attorneys Larry Bendensky, Adam Pantano and Robert Zimmerman. The lawyers investigated the crash and negotiated a pre-suit settlement with Gold Medal.

Bendensky was quoted as saying, “From the start of this process, our clients had two goals: to learn what caused their daughter’s death and to help make sure that this didn’t happen to another family.” The Fredericks lawyers consulted with the Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia and also retained experts who provided more information on street safety standards and best practices.

As there were two storefronts at the scene of this tragic incident, the attorneys for the Fredericks family acquired surveillance footage of the crash. There were also inward and outward cameras on the truck; Gold Medal produced the cameras.

A video was also produced, which included an expert’s description of the pain and suffering caused by this crash. The video was sent to Gold Medal with a letter demanding the full insurance limits of $6 million including detailed company safety improvements and a financial contribution to safe street initiatives throughout the Philadelphia region.

In 2018, the parties settled for the policy limits of $6 million. As part of the settlement, Gold Medal agreed to pay an additional $125,000 over five years to organizations dedicated to improving street safety in Philadelphia.

The settlement also required Gold Medal to make significant company-wide safety improvements. These included the hiring of an of independent, certified organization to conduct the company’s safety training; completing a safety audit; implementing 26 new safety policies and procedures; and inviting the Frederickses to speak about their family’s loss and the critical importance of safe driving.

As reported in the fine article written by Mandy Brown in Trial, May 2019, the family insisted that the settlement terms be made public to increase Gold Medal’s accountability. In addition, the Frederickses also reached a separate settlement agreement with the City of Philadelphia for $500,000 – the state statutory cap on damages against the city – for claims related to the layout and upkeep of bike lanes. It was reported that the family intends to use the full settlement to fund transportation safety initiatives.

The attorneys representing Emily’s family, Larry Bendensky, Adam Pantano and Robert Zimmerman, must be congratulated for their excellent contributions in handling this tragic case.

Fredericks v. Gold Medal Environmental of PA, Inc., No. 505 (Pa. Ct. Com. Pl.).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling wrongful death lawsuits, bicycle accident cases, motorcycle accident lawsuits and truck crash injury lawsuits for individuals, families and loved ones who have been injured, harmed or killed by the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Glenview, Prospect Heights, Des Plaines, Lincolnwood, Half Day, Crystal Lake, Barrington, Lake Bluff, Bannockburn, Riverwoods, Northfield, Kenilworth, Evanston, Chicago (Rogers Park, Albany Park, Andersonville, Ravenswood Manor, Old Irving Park, Portage Park, North Center, Lakeview, Boys Town, Wrigleyville, Bricktown, West Lakeview, Lathrop Homes, Wrightwood Neighbors, Park West, Sheffield Neighbors, Palmer Square, Noble Square, River West, Magnificent Mile, Fulton River District, Near West Side, Illinois Medical District, Douglas Park, Homan Square, Lawndale, Marshall Square, Pilsen, Bridgeport, Canaryville, Fuller Park, West Englewood, Lithuanian Plaza, Chicago Lawn, Morgan Park), Alsip, Calumet Park, Blue Island, South Holland and Harvey, Ill.

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