Recreation of the scene as it was before the backhoe was ordered moved. Photo provided by Reiner, Slaughter and McCartney.




Back in 2011, a Redding man working on a Caltrans project on Eureka’s Broadway Street was struck and nearly killed by an errant motorist, leaving him with “locked-in syndrome” — conscious, but quadriplegic and unable to communicate.

Back in 2017, a Humboldt County jury determined that Caltrans was responsible for the accident. The man — Kyle Anderson — was working in a trench dug into the shoulder of southbound Broadway in front of the old Mr. Fish location. Anderson’s employer, which had contracted to do the job for Caltrans, asked for the rightmost lane to be closed while the work was performed, which would be during the middle of the night. The request was denied.

Once on scene, the contractors parked a backhoe in front of the trench in order to provide something of a barrier between its workers and oncoming traffic. However, a Caltrans engineer showed up to the site and ordered the backhoe moved. Shortly afterward, a car did in fact drift over into the shoulder, striking Anderson as he was at work and leaving him with devastating injuries.

The Humboldt County jury awarded Anderson and his family $56.5 million dollars, which is believed to make it the largest [single-plaintiff] civil suit in Humboldt County history.

[CORRECTION: An attorney from Jannsen Malloy reminds us of their $677 million class action lawsuit against Skilled Healthcare, which at the time operated several local assisted-living facilities.]

Today comes word that Caltrans has given up on appealing the decision, and has settled with Anderson for about half that amount.

Press release from Anderson’s attorney — the Redding-based firm of Reiner, Slaughter and Frankel:

A Redding, Calif. construction worker struck by a car and paralyzed at an unsafe California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) roadside worksite in 2011 has won a record settlement, the Reiner, Slaughter & Frankel law firm announced today.

Kyle Anderson was 20 years old when he suffered a severe brain injury that left him a quadriplegic with “locked-in syndrome.” Kyle is aware of his surroundings, but cannot move or communicate verbally. The $37.35 million settlement is believed to be the largest Caltrans settlement for an individual.

Kyle’s legal team found that Caltrans negligently failed to implement safety procedures to protect workers from oncoming traffic and attempted to cover up the incident. Caltrans removed safety features an hour before the incident, withheld information from law enforcement investigators, and closed its internal investigation less than 10 hours after Kyle was injured.

Kyle is represented by trial attorney Russell Reiner and Richard Frankel, of Reiner, Slaughter & Frankel, of Redding, Calif.

Trial attorney Russell Reiner, of Reiner, Slaughter & Frankel, said, “This preventable incident irreparably changed the lives of Kyle and his parents, Matt and Robin Anderson. This settlement will help ensure that Kyle will receive the 24/7 medical care he requires including new medical therapies for his injuries. Kyle’s parents, Matt and Robin, are angels on earth. They have been taking care of their son for more than seven years since this tragic event. They have provided love and care to Kyle that inspires me and everyone that sees how they interact with their son.”

Kyle’s parents, Matt and Robin Anderson, said, “It is our family’s hope that Caltrans management will learn from what our son is going through and strive to safely ensure that other families will not be forced to endure what Kyle will suffer the remainder of his life. We urge Caltrans to follow their rules to protect workers, contractors and the public.”

The case is Kyle Alden Anderson, by and through his parents, Matt and Robin Anderson, vs. State of California (Department of Transportation), No. DR120609 in the Superior Court of California, Humboldt County.