Farella Braun + Martel Sets Things Right for Permanently Injured Bicyclist

From left, Alex Reese, Thomas Mayhew, Julia Kropp

In a recent pro bono success, a JDC staff attorney helped a permanently injured man file suit pro se in federal court. Then, volunteer attorneys from Farella Braun + Martel represented him through an arduous case to an excellent settlement that will help with the medical care he’ll need for the rest of his life.

The client, “Mr. B”, was riding his bicycle through the Presidio of San Francisco, as he had almost daily for years. Unbeknownst to him, the Presidio had installed new speed bumps without posting signs to warn riders. Mr. B tripped on a bump, flew over the handlebars and landed on the pavement on his head and side. Severe spine, limb and face injuries left him, at age 49, permanently disabled and unable to work. He’d been wearing a helmet while cycling on a mountain bike under the speed limit.

At JDC’s Federal Pro Bono Project, Mr. B got much help from Manjari Chawla, the Supervising Attorney. Over many appointments, Chawla helped him procedurally and substantively, including drafting initial and amended complaints.

From there, the volunteer attorneys stepped in to represent Mr. B in a challenging case. The court had granted the government’s motion to dismiss with prejudice, but against all odds and with tremendous effort, Farella’s Julia Kropp and Alex Reese won a motion to reconsider. Because Mr. B will suffer for the rest of his life, discovery involved numerous expert witnesses, including medical, vocational rehabilitation and road engineers. Then the government filed a legally complex motion for summary judgment. After Farella defeated it, partner Thomas Mayhew led protracted settlement negotiations and obtained $775,000 for Mr. B.

Alex Reese, part of the Farella team, says that after Mr. B was so severely and permanently injured, the attorneys were “just looking for what was right for him.” He says, “Mr. B is a great guy and it was an honor to represent him.” Farella’s hard work has given Mr. B justice and compensation that will allow him to lead a productive life despite his severe injuries. He is thrilled and grateful, and JDC thanks Farella for standing by our client.

To learn more about the Justice & Diversity Center’s Federal Pro Bono Project, visit www.sfbar.org/probono.