$8.3 Million Award

In December, a jury awarded $8.3 million in damages to two boys who were injured when a car crashed into their dirt bike in an accident occurring March 30, 2005. The jury found the boys negligent in the crash, as well as the driver of the car and the city’s contractor, but said that 82 percent of the responsibility for the crash was attributed to the city for allowing a blind intersection from overgrown vegetation. Once the verdict is reviewed and Judge Colaw signs the judgment, the city will have 30 days to appeal.

One of the injured boys, Trenten Merrill, required several surgeries, and subsequently lost his right leg below the knee. In apportioning the judgment, the jury awarded $7.2 million to Merrill, and $1.1 million to Agostini, the other boy on the bike. Any money that is paid will not come directly from the City of San Juan Capistrano, but will come from an insurance pool the city belongs to. Merrill originally sought $12 million in damages, while the city offered $1 million as a settlement. There were four unsuccessful attempts at mediation to settle the civil suit.