The violent death of a six-year-old boy bicycling on Martin Luther King Drive resulted in a settlement of $2.3 million in a case handled by lawyers Roberta D. Pichini and Jason A. Daria. The case involved the metal gates used to divert traffic off of MLK Drive on Saturdays when it is used for recreation. Those gates, painted brown in color to blend in with the surrounding park, went unnoticed by an elderly driver driving out from the city of Philadelphia. She forcefully struck the gates, which were chained shut. The impact caused the chain to snap and the gates to violently swing back and strike the young boy who was bicycling on the pathway next to the Drive, killing him instantly in front of his brother, sister, and father.
The elderly driver was prosecuted criminally. A lawsuit was filed against her and the City. Although the City claimed that the incident was the fault only of the driver, aggressive discovery unearthed a history of accidents surrounding this traffic diversion on the Drive and the lack of effective risk planning by the City, although municipal immunity limited recovery from the City. Discovery, however, also revealed the involvement of a private company that had assisted in the design of the gates, and plaintiffs alleged that this company should have provided for a means to prevent the gate from swinging back and, on its rotation, reaching the bike path.
After years of litigation, Pichini and Daria obtained the full amount of funds recoverable from the City, all available insurance coverage plus a substantial personal contribution from the driver, virtually all of the insurance coverage for the private company, and the full underinsurance limits held by the parents of the deceased child.
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