Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Politics & Govt
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Published on February 29, 2024
San Francisco Supervisors Approve $9 Million Settlement for Injured Bicyclist on Presidio Heights StreetSource: Google Street View

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors didn't bat an eye Tuesday as they unanimously voted to grant a jaw-dropping $9 million to Mason Masuda, a bicyclist who slammed into an unmarked, perilous bump on a so-called Slow Street, according to SFist. The hefty sum, settled without a whisper of debate, is for life-altering injuries Masuda, a former Cruise robotaxi project manager, suffered last August. The city's rapid gavel decision was juxtaposed against the reality that wrongful death cases in the area often see figures only a third of what Masuda received.

Indeed, the grip the city finds itself in stems from a debacle dating back to August 2022, when the SF Public Utilities Commission left behind a menacing construction bump after water-line work on Clay Street. The hazard took its toll over 11 days before being corrected, leading to injuries among unsuspecting bicyclists and scooter riders hurtling over the sudden rise. Supervisor Aaron Peskin admitted to SFist, "I haven't seen payouts like this even for wrongful deaths." Yet, without scrutiny, the board seemed to acknowledge the gravity of Masuda's claim by swiftly approving the settlement.

San Francisco's payout history reveals that while Masuda's compensation is shocking, it is not unprecedented. An $11 million settlement had been previously accorded to a woman permanently disabled by a Muni light-rail train. However, the prudence of this current settlement is yet to be fully comprehended, with the City Attorney's Office suggesting, according to SFist, "We believe the proposed settlement is an appropriate resolution given the inherent costs of continued litigation."

In the wake of the board's decision, there's a gathering storm for the city as at least four others, injured in much the same fashion, have lined up their lawsuits, KGO reports. Ralph Bower, who was preparing for the World Ironman Championship, suffered a nightmarish tumble that broke his collarbone and ribs, prompting surgeries and snatching away the peak physical form needed for his athletic pursuits. "And all of a sudden, the next thing I knew I woke up. I woke up in the middle of the street," Bower recounted to KGO.

It took nearly two weeks of injuries and 311 calls for the city to address the roadway peril properly. Andrea Posey, an attorney for the suing plaintiffs, told KGO, "The bump that is the focus of the lawsuit was a roadway trap - unapparent and unexpected." She lamented the avoidable nature of the incidents, pointing to a pattern of "knowledge and inaction by the CCSF until the roadway was repaired and repaved more than ten days later."