REDWOOD CITY, CA – Caltrans and a driver who ran her car into a Millbrae girl walking across El Camino Real were ordered to pay the now-comatose woman $12.2 million in damages, attorneys said Wednesday.
A San Mateo County jury decided Gada Hassan and Caltrans were responsible for the March 2006 collision in a crosswalk near Ludeman Lane in Millbrae that left then-17-year-old Emily Liou with permanent brain injuries, said her attorney, Douglas Saeltzer.
The settlement is to be paid in a lump sum, he added.
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Caltrans said by e-mail it is considering an appeal, but made no further comment.
One of Saeltzer’s primary arguments to the jury was that the crosswalk Liou used was dangerous because it sits on top of a small rise where drivers can’t see pedestrians.
Three walkers have been struck and killed by cars in the same spot since 1991.
Aggravating the situation is a lack of traffic lights or stop signs to slow drivers.
The result is a crosswalk that gives pedestrians a sense of security, though there is nothing to protect them, Saeltzer said.
“Caltrans created the problem,” he added. “They have not done a thing to (improve) this intersection.”
Liou was walking across the road in the early evening on her way home from singing karaoke with friends.
She had made it across six of seven lanes when she was struck by a Toyota sedan.
Although the impact was at a relatively low speed – 20-25 mph – Liou was knocked to the ground and hit her head.
Hassan told investigators that she didn’t see the girl until just before the impact, Saeltzer said. Her attorney, Jonathan Lee, declined to comment on the case.
Liou, now 21, is in China seeking treatment because medical costs are lower there.
Saeltzer said one of the themes of the four-week trial, which ended with a verdict July 1, was to bring Liou back to the United States.
“Caltrans told people that this is a safe way to cross. It’s definitely not,” he said.