Three years of legal wrangling has ended after the Washington state Department of Transportation agreed to pay $8 million to a bicyclist who became paralyzed after his bike tire got caught between two steel grates and he fell.
The state, which operates the Montlake Bridge (left) south of the University of Washington campus in Seattle, did not admit fault for the crash.
The $8 million will pay for medical and therapy costs of Mickey Gendler, a once active environmental attorney for a firm in Seattle. His battle to rehabilitate to the point where he struggles to use a walker was chronicled in the Seattle Times 2 years ago. [The Times followed on the story Wednesday: "Injured cyclist would trade $8 million to get his life back."]
Great deal of pain
Gendler's attorney, Keith Kessler, told the Seattle P-I:
“How do you come from being this really active guy — a kayaker, a bicyclist who has gone through courses in Europe — and to not be able to do that anymore. One thing he has going for him is his great sense of humor. But that doesn't change the fact that he's going through a great deal of pain.”
The crash occurred in October 2007 when Gendler and a friend were cycling south across the drawbridge and veered into the left lane to turn toward the arboretum, a common route for cyclists. Gendler's bike tire caught the seam and he flipped over the handlebars, cracking his helmet. The crash left him paralyzed.
During the lawsuit, Gendler's attorney discovered that a bicyclist had crashed in a similar fall in 1999.
The state had never repaired the gap as it was “within acceptable tolerance range of the design specifications,” according to the online Seattle P-I. The state noted that bicyclists usually use the bridge sidewalk, instead of the bridge deck.
Guess what? The state has since closed the gap between the two steel grates.