REDDING, Calif. — A road construction worker from Redding who was paralyzed in a workplace accident has reached a record settlement from Caltrans. The $37.35 million settlement was announced Monday in a news release from Redding law firm Reiner, Slaughter & Frankel.
Kyle Anderson of Redding was 20 years old when he suffered a severe brain injury in 2011. The injury left him a quadriplegic with “locked-in syndrome.” Kyle is aware of his surroundings, but cannot move or communicate verbally.
Anderson was working on a road construction project in Eureka when he was struck by a car. His lawyers said the $37.35 million settlement is believed to be the largest Caltrans settlement for an individual.
The settlement comes after in 2017 a jury in Humboldt County had awarded Anderson $56.5 million.
Anderson’s legal team argued that Caltrans negligently failed to implement safety procedures to protect workers from oncoming traffic. The lawyers also argued that Caltrans attempted to cover up the incident.
According to Anderson’s attorneys, Caltrans removed safety features an hour before the incident, withheld information from law enforcement investigators, and closed its internal investigation less than 10 hours after Anderson was injured.
All Phase Excavating had a contract with Caltrans in Eureka to perform work in the shoulder of Broadway and Highway 101 at night. For the safety of its employees, All Phase had requested a lane closure. Anderson’s attorneys said just prior to the work shift, Caltrans denied the lane closure.
Because Caltrans denied the lane closure, All Phase attempted to do the work in the shoulder with the use of a barrier backhoe to protect the workers and the public.
Anderson’s attorneys said a Caltrans employee, unaware a backhoe could be used as a barrier vehicle, ordered the contractor to remove the backhoe from the shoulder.
In addition, the attorneys said Caltrans ordered a work light tower to be placed and adjusted in such a way as to cause a blinding glare to oncoming drivers. Due to the denial of the lane closure, removal of the backhoe, and adjustment of the work light tower, it was ruled Caltrans created a dangerous condition.
A vehicle whose driver was blinded by the light tower entered the shoulder of the road striking Anderson who was exposed as a result of the safety barrier backhoe being removed.
Trial attorney Russell Reiner, of Reiner, Slaughter & Frankel, said, “This preventable incident irreparably changed the lives of Kyle and his parents, Matt and Robin Anderson. This settlement will help ensure that Kyle will receive the 24/7 medical care he requires including new medical therapies for his injuries.”
Reiner went on to say “Kyle’s parents, Matt and Robin, are angels on earth. They have been taking care of their son for more than seven years since this tragic event. They have provided love and care to Kyle that inspires me and everyone that sees how they interact with their son.”
Kyle’s parents, Matt and Robin Anderson, said, “It is our family’s hope that Caltrans management will learn from what our son is going through and strive to safely ensure that other families will not be forced to endure what Kyle will suffer the remainder of his life. We urge Caltrans to follow their rules to protect workers, contractors and the public.”
In a statement about the settlement Caltrans officials said “This case has been actively litigated for years. The Dept. is hopeful this settlement agreement will allow both parties to reach closure on this tragic event.”