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$9.5M Settlement for Motorcyclist Thrown from Bike Due to Lack of Signage

In San Bernardino County, California, northwest of Joshua Tree, is a rural two-lane roadway called Pipes Canyon Road. It consists of a compound curve – two turns split by a short straightaway. Road signs warned drivers of the first curve but not the second 90-degree turn immediately following a hill. Consequently, a motorcyclist named Anthony crashed after he rounded the second turn during a ride with his motorcycle club, rendering him paraplegic. Bill Paoli and Court Purdy of Paoli & Purdy, PC represented Anthony against San Bernardino County. They used a presentation outlining the county’s defective roadway alongside a day-in-the-life documentary, ultimately securing Anthony a $9,500,000 settlement.

In the moments leading up to the crash, Anthony carefully rode westbound on his motorcycle, slower than the 55-mile-per-hour posted speed limit. After the first curve, he checked his side mirrors to see if everyone in his party made the turn safely. Unaware of the sudden left turn following the rise in elevation, Anthony strayed onto the rocky shoulder, struck a berm, and was ejected 20 feet from his bike. He landed on a rock, fracturing his cervical spine and severing his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed. First responders airlifted Anthony to a hospital, where doctors shared that his chances of survival were slim.

Bill Paoli and Court Purdy were referred to represent Anthony, investigate the dangerous roadway, and prove the county was liable for the incident. First, Bill looked to understand the road’s design and how the accident occurred. He deposed experts, traffic engineers, and witnesses. He learned that multiple people saw an ambulance nearly crash into a fire truck while responding to Anthony’s emergency. The ambulance driver also failed to see the curve, leaving behind a 100-foot skid mark. Moreover, Bill unearthed formal requests from the nearby community pleading with the county to make the roadway safer after people experienced the same issues.

With help from their retained traffic engineer, Court contended that the road did not offer any line of sight – the ability to see upcoming turns. Thus, he stated that design immunity did not apply to the county because the roadway did not follow the California Highway Design Manual. In addition, the opposing counsel could not provide the road’s construction blueprints due to its old age.

Bill and Court brought on DK Global to help synthesize their expert testimony and complex evidence into an easy-to-understand presentation. In addition, they looked to create a day-in-the-life documentary that explained the family’s struggle to move past the immense trauma the crash caused.

The video commenced with a summary of the roadway. It explained that the county’s white reflector paddles used to warn drivers of the bend were ineffective and difficult to see in daylight. In response to the accident, San Bernardino County put nine chevron alignment signs at the curve. Next, medical imagery of Anthony’s broken spine was displayed while a narrator described his hospital stay. Then, Anthony’s lifecare plan outlined his lost wages, damages, and future medical expenses to improve his quality of life. Finally, the documentary captured the crash's impact on Anthony and his family. Anthony and his wife’s daily routine revolved around his medical care.

Court and Bill sent the video presentation to the county. However, after three mediations, both parties could not come to an agreement. During the fourth meeting with the county’s board of supervisors, Court and Bill secured a settlement of $9,500,000 for Anthony and his family.

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 use them [DK Global] all the time. They understand the things that I'm looking for and you guys keep coming up with new ways to present information."
Court Purdy - Paoli & Purdy, PC
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