Sacramento pays family millions in crosswalk settlement.
The City of Sacramento paid a family $11 million to settle a case in which a grandmother, QuiChang Zhu, 72, and her six-year-old grandson, Jian Hao Kuang, were hit by a vehicle while crossing a busy intersection on a one-time crosswalk. Zhu was killed and the boy was severely injured. The settlement marked one of the largest payouts in the city’s history.
“In January 2018, the two were crossing Freeport Boulevard at Oregon Drive,” according to a lawsuit filed in Sacramento County Superior Court. “They were crossing on a crosswalk. The intersection has no traffic lights. A sedan traveling north on Freeport Boulevard hit killing Zhu and causing catastrophic and permanent brain damage to Jian Hao Kuang.”
The city made a botched attempt to remove the paint from the intersections, making the two believe that a crosswalk still existed. According to the suit, “The crosswalk had existed for years on the busy corridor, but prior to the incident, it appeared the city had removed most of the paint, but left imprints or depressions where the painted rectangles had been. In fact, the markings left at this crossing had the dangerous effect of being visible to pedestrians giving the impression the crossing was still intended to be a marked crosswalk, but not being visible to approaching motorists on Freeport Boulevard.”
Today, in the aftermath of the settlement, the city has made a better attempt at eliminating the “imprints or depressions.” Money from the payout will “fund a special needs trust” for Kuang who will need care for his brain injury for the rest of his life. The lawsuit indicated, “He will be unable to pursue regular employment.”
“As the City Attorney for Sacramento, it often is my responsibility to help reconcile supremely tragic events that befall residents of our city,” Alcala Wood said. “This case, which involved the death of a grandmother and the serious injury of a young boy as the result of a traffic collision, is certainly one of the most tragic. Our hearts go out to the Kuang family for the pain they have experienced and the losses they have suffered. The settlement agreement with the family was designed to include a special needs trust that ensures that Jianhao Kuang is cared for throughout his life. Meanwhile, the city remains committed to following all federal and state guidelines regarding the designs for our streets and to doing everything in our power to improve their safety.”
Spokesperson for the City Council, Tim Swanson, added of the lack of an easily accessible public record of the settlement, “If there was no report of actions taken by Council following this closed session, it would be because the Council did not take any reportable action related to the item in question, or the Brown Act did not require disclosure at that time.”
First Amendment Coalition executive director David Snyder disagrees, stating that the public has a right to know. He said, “As a matter of policy, I think any city should publicly disclose a payment of this size, especially whereas here it’s (one of) the largest ever. That’s a lot of money that might otherwise have been used to repair city streets, address the homelessness crisis, improve city services.”