Olympia man settles dangerous-highway-design lawsuit for $2 million
OLYMPIA – An Olympia man today settled a dangerous-highway-design lawsuit against the Washington State Department of Transportation for $2 million. John Lancaster, 24, was critically injured when his motorcycle hit a car turning left onto the controversial intersection at Lynch Road and SR 101 near Shelton.
Lancaster spent two months in the hospital and underwent 15 surgeries. He is still recovering from the April 2006 collision, the 29th collision at SR 101 and Lynch Road since a state DOT study recommended fixing the deadly highway. An independent investigation by the Law Offices of Briggs and Briggs revealed there has been a total of 55 collisions at the intersection since 1996, including two fatalities.
“Crossing the intersection is like playing a high-stakes game of chicken - some drivers make it, some don’t. The state knew that people’s lives were at risk, but chose to do nothing,” said Shawn Briggs, a Tacoma attorney representing Lancaster. “Drivers on Lynch Road have trouble judging when it is safe to go because of the high speed on SR 101 and the configuration of that intersection.”
Local safety officials and state studies have documented the dangers of the intersection for more than a decade. The state recommended closure of the southbound left turn from Lynch Road onto SR 101 following an April 2001 DOT study. The report favored construction of a new county road east of SR 101 to run parallel to the highway.
“The state has listened, talked, studied and planned - what it hasn’t done is act. It’s too late for John Lancaster, but it could still make a difference for the next person who drives through that intersection,” Briggs said.
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