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Orange County Digest

Santa Ana : Man Blames Design of Car-Pool Lane for Crash

July 22, 1987

A man hurt in an accident in a car-pool lane of the Costa Mesa Freeway says negligent design of the lane caused the accident. The county disagrees.

Christopher Ross Taylor filed a claim with the county last Thursday saying his neck and back were broken, his right foot crushed and an ankle dislocated when the car in which he was a passenger hit the back of a car stopped in the car-pool lane because it ran out of gas on April 11.

The claim, which names the county and the state as defendants and must be filed before the governmental agencies can be sued, says the plans and designs that created the car-pool lane in November, 1985, were defective and eliminated a road shoulder next to the center divider for emergency parking.

The claim also says state and county officials "for years have unreasonably delayed" installing call boxes on the freeway for stranded motorists.

Thomas Fortune, a spokesman for the Orange County Transportation Commission, said that he has not seen the claim but that it is the first to challenge the re-striping of the freeway.

Fortune said that the re-striping was done to create an additional lane in each direction and that the fact that the additional lane wound up being designated for car poolers was separate and irrelevant.

The claim says Taylor's medical expenses have come to nearly $35,000 so far, with a $3,000 loss of earnings and $1 million in general damages. It puts future expenses at $50,000 for medical, $960,000 for loss of earnings and $3 million for general damages.

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