AgnewBrusavich obtained a settlement against the State of California’s Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and The City of Newport Beach for a bicycle-vehicle accident that resulted in the death of 58-year-old Debra Deem on August 27, 2013. As an integral part of the settlement negotiated by lead attorney Bruce Brusavich, the City of Newport Beach agreed to work with traffic safety experts selected by Mr. Brusavich and Paul Deem, Ms. Deem’s widower, to implement improvements to the intersection with the cooperation of Caltrans.
Although Caltrans and the City of Newport Beach initially denied liability and blamed the 89-year-old driver who struck Ms. Deem and who was criminally prosecuted for vehicular manslaughter, Mr. Brusavich argued that the “free right turn” at the intersection caused driver confusion and was the cause of the fatal incident. In addition to a cash settlement of $450,000 paid by the State and $225,000 by the City, Mr. Brusavich insisted on a commitment by Caltrans and the City to work in good faith to improve the dangerous intersection. The driver of the vehicle which struck Ms. Deem had already paid his insurance policy limits of $108,500.
After the settlement, a report was released based on a study conducted by the Orange County Transportation Authority and Caltrans, examining 37 miles of Pacific Coast Highway. Among the dangerous locations identified was the intersection where Ms. Deem lost her life.
Paul Deem is a United States Olympic cyclist and world record holder. Improving the intersection to prevent future cycling injuries or deaths is of paramount importance to him.