Westport Youngster Prevails with $9 Million Verdict after Long Battle with DOT
Stamford— JULY 08, 2022 — After an eleven day trial in Stamford Superior Court, Kaeleigh Pollard prevails over the Connecticut Department of Transportation in a personal injury claim. The Jury awarded her $9 Million for traumatic brain injury and a host of other injuries when she was struck by an automobile driven by John Rogers of Bridgeport on August 28, 2015. The jury agreed with Pollard that the sole cause of the accident was the failure of the DOT to adequately perform a crosswalk eradication on Rt. 136 (Bridge Street) in the Saugatuck section of Westport.
Difficult Liability Standard
Pollard’s sole remedy was under the CT defective highway standard (13a-144,) which requires an injured party to prove that neither she nor Rogers was negligent in causing or contributing to her injuries. Pollard’s lead attorney, Stewart M. Casper of Stamford’s Casper & de Toledo LLC, stated that “as early as October 2015, it was apparent to me that the DOT was likely responsible for Kaeleigh’s injuries, but we needed to bring all potential parties into the lawsuit in order to compel depositions to validate the evidence. The burdensome defective highway statute, which would defeat the claim if the jury found either Kaeleigh or the driver even 1% at fault, informed everything we did in the case.” As the evidence was gathered, all of the other potential responsible parties – the Town of Westport and Mr. Rogers – were dropped from the case, leaving only the DOT.
In 2010, the DOT decided to remove the midblock crosswalks on Bridge Street near the old Saugatuck Elementary School (now the Saugatuck Senior Housing). For some reason, the removal was not completed in a 2011 DOT project, but instead was made part of a 2015 project that also included repainting traffic control lines, including many crosswalks throughout southwestern part of the state. The Bridge Street midblock crosswalks were excepted from repainting with Expoxy Resin and were targeted for eradication. But the DOT never informed the Westport Department of Public Works, the Westport Police, or the neighborhood. Between July 13 & July 15, 2015, the work was performed at night by Bridgeport-based Safety Marking, Inc. The DOT plans failed to include a requirement to notify Westport or post “No Pedestrian Crossing” signs. Six weeks later, Pollard, then age 15 and unaware that the drivers on Bridge Street no longer could see a crosswalk, and with ramps still in place and an outlines of the only partially eradicated crosswalk paint still visible, Pollard got caught half way across Bridge Street, believing that she was in a protected crosswalk with the right of way.
Pollard suffered a loss of consciousness, traumatic brain injury, chronic migraine headaches, neck injuries including torn ligaments and a herniated disc with concomitant myofascial pain disorder, and a partially torn rotator cuff.
The DOT was represented by Colleen Fries, Esq. of Coyne, von Kuhn, Brady & Fries, LLC of Shelton, CT.
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