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Dangerous Condition On Highway 50

Verdict: $17.25 Million | El Dorado County Superior Court | Betts v. State of California

On the day of the incident, Mr. Betts was in the right lane, which had been designated by the state for traffic to stop and have chains installed. A third party came into the installation zone too fast and lost control when he braked in response to another vehicle that had stopped in the remaining through lane based upon a mistaken belief that it was a chain checkpoint. As a result, he lost control of his vehicle and struck Mr. Betts, resulting in a serious head injury. The state contended that the collision was entirely the fault of the third party. Plaintiff took the position that the state was primarily responsible for its failure to provide the public with adequate notice of the change in conditions and that a lane was going to be closed, and that it knew there was a potential for vehicles entering the chain installation area too fast. Mr. Betts suffered a significant brain injury that essentially left him in a near-vegetative state, requiring 24-hour care. His wife of nearly 50 years took care of him for a little over a year entirely by herself until she had to take him to a convalescent facility because he was physically abusive to her due to his frontal lobe injury that impacted his behavior. The state of California offered nothing to resolve the case and ignored plaintiffs’ offers to settle. The verdict ultimately came in for the plaintiff on a vote of 11 to one against the state in the amount of $13 million for Dean Betts for his personal injury claim and $4.25 million for Lynn Betts on her loss of consortium claim for a total verdict of $17.25 million, 65 percent of which was the state’s responsibility.