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Caltrans decides not to appeal $8.6 award in motorcycle-boar case

By KELLY NIX

Published: June 19, 2009

ATTORNEYS FOR The California Department of Transportation announced Thursday they would not appeal the $8.6 million award to a Monterey motorcyclist who is permanently disabled after a 2003 collision with a wild boar on Highway 1 near Carmel.

Following a trial in Monterey County Superior Court, jurors awarded Adam Rogers the money because they felt Caltrans did not do enough to prevent the wild boar from crossing Highway 1. The verdict was handed down March 27.

In a statement to The Pine Cone Thursday, Caltrans attorneys said they will let the jury’s decision stand.

“Caltrans does offer its compassion to the Rogers family,” they said. “At this point, Caltrans has decided not to file an appeal in this matter.”
Attorneys for Rogers, a former kickboxing champion, argued during the three-week trial that the state knew there was a problem of wild boar crossing the road but did little to prevent the problem.

But Caltrans argued Rogers was at fault because tests showed he had been driving under the influence of alcohol. The night of the accident, a test of Rogers’ blood at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula showed Rogers has a blood alcohol level of .107, exceeding the legal limit of .08.

In an interview last month with The Pine Cone, Rogers adamantly denied he had been drinking the night of the crash.

The accident, between the Carmel River and Ribera Road, left Rogers, a competitive kickboxer, wheelchair-bound and with some brain damage. Rogers, 45, is married and has two children.

Nine of 12 jurors determined it wasn’t Rogers’ fault he hit the boar about midnight on Sept. 23, 2003, but that it was the state’s fault for creating a “dangerous condition.”

Following the March verdict, Caltrans’ attorneys Kamau Edwards and Belvin Kent Smith filed a motion for a new trial alleging juror misconduct. The lawyers claimed one juror had said to fellow jurors, “I know what it is like not to be able to provide for your family because of my own injuries. I understand Rogers that way.” State attorneys also alleged the same juror told other jurors during deliberations that Rogers’ lawyers were “top notch.”

But Superior Court Judge Robert O’Farrell ruled the juror’s conduct did not compromise the trial and denied the request for a new one.

Caltrans attorneys in May also tried to have O’Farrell disqualified and sought a new trial alleging O’Farrell and Larry Biegel, one of Rogers’ attorneys, had been “personal friends.” But Biegel and O’Farrell responded with written statements denying they were friends, and a Sonoma County Superior Court Judge agreed, rejecting the request for a new trial.