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April 16, 2021

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Vancouver to pay $144,000 to end suit

Man with cerebral palsy was injured in fall on waterfront trail

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The city of Vancouver has agreed to pay $144,000 to a 66-year-old man with cerebral palsy who fell while walking on the Waterfront Renaissance Trail.

The settlement, approved Monday by the city council, still needs to be approved by a Clark County Superior Court judge because the man had been deemed incapacitated and appointed a guardian during court proceedings.

Darrel Cross fell on the trail during a community walk organized by the Arc of Clark County in 2008. He sustained fractures in his face and jaw, resulting in more than $100,000 in medical expenses, according to a staff report provided to councilors. Assistant City Attorney Dan Lloyd wrote that a raised concrete panel that caused Cross to fall has been removed.

A lawsuit was filed in Superior Court in 2009, and the city argued it was protected under the state’s recreational immunity statute.

However, Judge Dan Stahnke ruled there was sufficient evidence to send the case to trial, Lloyd said.

Lloyd wrote that while the Waterfront Renaissance Trail was, and continues to be, reasonably safe, it could be considerably more expensive for the city to go to trial.

“This is a unique plaintiff, in that unlike other individuals who have tripped along city paths, (he) might not have his verdict reduced due to failing to properly care for his own safety,” Lloyd wrote in the staff report. “Additionally, unlike other plaintiffs, he is capable of garnering a large amount of sympathy from a jury, which increases the risk of a sizable verdict.”

Lloyd said Monday that the city denies wrongdoing and agreed to the settlement during a Feb. 4 mediation session with retired Superior Court Judge James Ladley.

The city will also pay mediation costs, not to exceed $1,000.

He said Cross, who was represented by attorney Gregory Price, was in an assisted-living facility after his fall and now lives with family members.

The settlement money will come from the city’s risk fund, Lloyd said.

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