The city of Hanford has reached a $60,000 settlement with a bicyclist who was allegedly hit by a city refuse driver.
The settlement, which does not admit guilt on either side, will go before the Hanford City Council today for final approval.
On July 1, 2013, Hanford resident Patricia Grantham was involved in a traffic collision with a refuse truck near East Cameron and Mary streets. Grantham was reportedly riding her bicycle westbound on Cameron Street, while the truck driver, Thomas Estrada, was stopped on the north shoulder, east of Mary Street.
City Attorney Mario Zamora said Estrada allegedly made a U-turn in front of Grantham, causing her to hit the rear of the truck.
Grantham was taken by helicopter to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno where she was treated for injuries to her leg, which suffered internal tissue damage. Her medical bills totaled more than $42,000.
“The facts are not really disputed,” Zamora said. “We know there was an accident.”
Grantham filed a lawsuit against the city on Jan. 13, 2014, demanding $95,000.
If the case had gone to trial, Zamora said, Grantham would have been entitled to recover her medical expenses. Through a settlement conference, Grantham’s initial demand was reduced to $60,000, meaning she would receive $18,000 in excess of her medical bills to cover lost wages caused by her injuries, as well as pain and suffering.
Zamora said a jury trial would have cost about $30,000 in addition to paying the medical bills. Settling the case now ultimately costs the city less money, he said.
“This is a unique case because the medical bills are substantial,” Zamora said.
According to figures obtained through city warrant register documents, the city has spent about $6,300 in legal fees since the suit was filed.
Meanwhile, the city is winding down an unrelated lawsuit filed by Michael and Kristene Hamburger, part owners of the Artesia Building in downtown Hanford. Michael Hamburger was arrested for intoxication and resisting arrest on Sept. 20, 2012, after police received a report of suspicious activity at the Artesia Building. The ensuing lawsuit alleged the arresting officer had used excessive force.
Since the suit was filed on Sept. 19, 2013, the city has spent more than $30,000 in legal fees. Zamora said the case is now nearing a settlement agreement.
Another lawsuit, filed by former Parks and Recreation Director J. Dean Johns and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, is set to go to trial on Jan. 11, 2016. Johns and the state department allege that Johns was fired in May 2013 as retaliation for speaking out against discriminating comments made toward one of his employees.
To date, the city has spent about $93,500 fighting the case, including Johns’ initial legal claim filed with the city plus the lawsuit filed by Department of Fair Employment and Housing.