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$9.5M Settlement Using Presentation & Day-in-the-Life Video for Defective Desert Roadway

Pipes Canyon Road is a two-lane, rural roadway northwest of Joshua Tree in San Bernardino County, California. The road contains a broken back curve, or compound curve, with two turns separated by a short, straight tangent. Signage cautioned the first curve but failed to alert motorists of the second 90-degree turn that immediately followed a rise in elevation. As a result, a catastrophic accident occurred when Anthony Vargas led his club of 25 motorcyclists on a scenic afternoon ride down the treacherous road, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. Court Purdy and Bill Paoli of Paoli & Purdy, PC, attained Anthony a $9.5M settlement using a presentation and a day-in-the-life video outlining the road’s dangerous conditions and the family’s struggle to move forward from the catastrophe.

Anthony rode westbound on his Harley Davidson around 35 to 45 miles per hour, slower than the posted speed limit of 55. As he rounded the first curve and glanced at his side-view mirror to ensure everyone was safe, he was unaware of the sharp, leftward turn beyond the crest of the roadway. He deviated onto the gravel-filled shoulder, hit a dirt berm, and launched approximately 20 feet from his bike before landing on a rock. Anthony’s cervical spine fractured at the C6 and C7 vertebrae, rendering him paraplegic. Paramedics airlifted Anthony to a nearby hospital, where doctors told his wife he had less than a one percent chance of surviving.

Court Purdy and Bill Paoli, a formidable duo with a successful track record litigating against large governmental entities, were referred to help Anthony and his wife hold the county accountable. However, the case was fraught with challenges. Bill deposed witnesses, experts, first responders, and traffic engineers to understand the accident and road design. He discovered multiple eyewitnesses observed an ambulance arriving at the scene who also failed to notice the curve and nearly collided with a fire engine, laying down a 100-foot skid mark. Bill also discovered that the surrounding community had formally requested the county to amend the road after residents nearly experienced several accidents.

Court asserted the county did not have design immunity because the road unreasonably deviated from the California Highway Design Manual (HDM). Furthermore, when asked the provide the road’s construction blueprints, the opposing counsel could not locate the documents due to its old age. Finally, with the help of his retained traffic engineer, Court contended the road did not offer any line-of-sight: the ability to identify the upcoming curve based on the HDM’s specifications.

With their case brimming with complex data, minutia, and expert testimony, Bill and Court engaged DK Global to distill their mass amount of evidence into a comprehensible presentation. Additionally, a day-in-the-life video captured the family’s resilient efforts in overcoming the devastation the incident left on them, illustrating why they deserved compensatory damages to receive the best care possible.

The presentation began with an overview of the roadway, stating the county's use of white reflector paddles to warn drivers of the turn were ineffective and indistinguishable during the day. After Anthony’s terrible accident, the county installed nine chevron alignment signs at the curve. CT scans of his broken cervical spine were displayed while a narrator recounted his hospital stay. To quantify his damages, lost wages, and future medical expenses, Anthony’s lifecare plan was outlined and calculated. Finally, the day-in-the-life video showed Anthony and his wife’s daily and exhausting routine, which required round-the-clock care. Anthony’s wife and children shared the trauma they experienced as they persevered as a family to move past the worst day of their lives.

Bill and Court shared the presentation with the county. After three unsuccessful mediations, Bill and Court attended the fourth meeting with the board of supervisors and agreed to a settlement of $9,500,000, an amount to provide Anthony and his family with essential care going forward.

For over 20 years, Court Purdy and Bill Paoli of Paoli & Purdy, PC have specialized in representing their clients in civil litigation, personal injury, product liability, and environmental law. As members of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, Bill and Court have attained millions of dollars in compensation against large governmental entities throughout California. Recently, Bill and Court were awarded the 2020 Orange County Trial Lawyer Association’s “Top Gun Trial Lawyers of the Year.”

Court Purdy has earned a Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review “Distinguished” award for his legal expertise.

Bill Paoli has been recognized as a “Super Lawyer” for 16 years. His successful track record in all his professional endeavors has earned him a 10.0 "Superb" peer review rating through Avvo, among other honors.

"I have yet to run into anyone at DK Global that hasn't been professional, that hasn't been very cognitive of our client's feelings and the trauma they are going through. It's been eye opening to watch that process."
William Paoli – Paoli & Purdy, PC
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