A Phoenix family settled a lawsuit for one million dollars against the State of Arizona for the defective design, installation, and maintenance of the cable median barrier on the State Route 101, that the family says contributed to the deaths of two family members. The family was represented by Phoenix attorney Michael Cordova, who spearheaded a lawsuit against the Arizona Department of Transportation.
In 2005, just a few days before Christmas of 2005, on December 22, Hilaria Rodriguez de Torres was a passenger in a minivan with her two daughters, Carolina and Maria. Carolina was driving the van southbound on Arizona State Route 101, in Glendale, as the women made their way home from work. An unidentified vehicle swerved into their lane, which caused Carolina to lose control of the minivan. The minivan left the highway and crossed over the cable median barrier into oncoming traffic on the northbound 101. The Plaintiffs argued that the median cable barrier was defectively designed and installed, and, as a result, did not stop the vehicle from crossing over.
The resulting collision was horrific. Five vehicles were involved. The Torres-Rodriguez family lost Hilaria and Maria when their vehicle was crushed. Carolina survived, but not without physical and psychological injury. The Plaintiffs asserted that this tragic accident was something that could have been prevented.
The complaint was filed on December 19, 2006, Torres v. State of Arizona, Maricopa County Superior Court, Case No. CV2006-019365. The Plaintiffs argued that ADOT negligently designed, constructed, and maintained the median cable barriers at Milepost 7.0 on State Route 101. As a result, out of control vehicles contacting the cable median barriers at this location would not be prevented from crossing into opposing lanes of traffic, which are accidents known as a "cross-over collisions".
The State of Arizona argued that the driver of the minivan, Carolina Torres negligently lost control of the van causing her to cross-over into northbound traffic on the State Route 101 becoming the "bullet vehicle" in the accident involving 5 vehicles. The State also argued that Hilaria and Maria were not wearing their seat belts and that the failure to do so caused the loss of life.
After almost two years following the filing of the lawsuit, the final papers are being filed with the court ordering the dismissal of the lawsuit. The Plaintiffs accepted a settlement of one million dollars, and the case was settled without going to trial.
Cable median barriers are intended to stop cross-over collisions, but must be properly designed, installed, and maintained. Plaintiffs argued that ADOT was advised of this problem, but failed to correct it.
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