News: Schrier Family Sues Menlo Park and Atherton
In response to a 2011 accident that injured Menlo Park teenager Courtney Schrier, her family has filed a lawsuit against the cities of Menlo Park and Atherton as well as Ranjit Pradhan, the driver of the vehicle that struck Schrier.
Schrier was struck at 8:30 on the morning of July 26, 2011 in a crosswalk on El Camino at Alejandra Avenue. According to the Almanac, she lost consciousness upon impact.
“This was a horrible accident,” said Sacred Heart athletic director Frank Rodriguez. “Witness accounts said that the car that hit Courtney in the crosswalk didn’t brake and knocked her 10 feet into the air.”
The lawsuit cites that it is the responsibility of public agencies to “provide and/or maintain adequate traffic control devices and warning signs alerting motorists to the crosswalk and the presence of pedestrians,” as well as “address and regulate the high speed of vehicles,” thus attributing the cause of her accident to the negligence of public agencies.
Schrier, a competitive athlete, was hit on the way home from a run in the area surrounding her house as part of her training to prepare for the Sacred Heart 2011 cross country season.
Marissa Beck, her cross country coach, cited her injuries as a fractured pelvis, possible punctured lung, and broken tailbone, according to Palo Alto Online. The lawsuit stated that she suffered a brain injury as well.
According to the lawsuit, because of the pelvis and brain injury, she was unable “to pursue her regular course and (regimen) of studies and athletics, and thus her choices of higher education have been reduced.”
The accident was detrimental to her team as well–in 2010, Schrier (then a sophomore) placed 13th overall in the West Bay Athletic League aiding her cross-country team in securing the first place league title. She was also ranked second team all league in both cross-country and track. Thus, it was a huge disappointment to lose her athletic abilities for the 2011 season.
“As great as a runner as she is,” Beck said, “she’s even a better kid.”
Though Schrier declined to comment on her parents’ reason for pursuing a lawsuit, in July of 2012 they decided to sue for unspecified damages as a result of the accident.
By citing both Menlo Park and Atherton as well as San Mateo County and even the state of California, Atherton City Attorney Bill Conners described the lawsuit as “a shotgun approach,” according to Palo Alto Online.
“We cannot maintain [El Camino]” Conners said of the State Highway, which is considered state property. “We don’t own it; we can’t control it.”
However, the case brings to light the multitude of accidents that have occurred on El Camino in recent years, and the lawsuit accuses multiple public agencies of being “negligent and careless in the design, construction, maintenance, inspection, repair, and control” of the road.